CRESTVIEW — Selected students at Walker and Riverside Elementary Schools will be able to run, leap and play in new shoes this summer following a regional medical business' community outreach.
Tuesday morning, an emergency response vehicle, which had served Hurricane Sandy victims in New Jersey and New York, pulled up to the schools.
A three-man team from Pensacola-based DaVita Dialysis Services delivered nearly 100 pairs of mostly athletic shoes to Walker and Riverside students from lower-income households.
Northwest Florida DaVita clinics held fund-raisers to purchase shoes using lists provided by Walker and Riverside administrators, who identified the neediest students.
DaVita's Shooza-Palooza outreach is part of the nationwide Shoes That Fit program.
Shoe boxes, some gift-wrapped, were tagged with each recipient student's name, age, shoe size and classroom.
"We've done a lot of these," biomedical supervisor Kevin McCormick said as he and biomedical technician John Butler carefully wheeled a cart stacked with 48 shoeboxes into Walker.
"We like to do it in the spring with summer approaching," facility administrator and nurse Don Wardle said. "A lot of the kids are really underprivileged and this will be their only pair of shoes."
"It's very rewarding to be able to help these kids and give back" to the community, McCormick said.
Walker counselor Alicia Humphrey said the shoe donation will greatly benefit some of her school's neediest students.
"It's not their fault that their circumstances are like that," Humphrey said. "A child shouldn't have to suffer if family finances are bad."
The shoes were quietly distributed from Humphrey’s office, one pair at a time, to avoid calling attention to recipients.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.