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Turning Bare Feet into Learning Feet has over 500 pairs of shoes for children this upcoming school year. (Photo by McKenna Horsley)

Franklin County Schools' Family Resource Youth Service Centers will give away shoes to local students for the second year in a row this Saturday. 

Last year, the event provided more than 270 pairs of shoes to Franklin County Schools students in a single day. Peaks Mill Elementary and Elkhorn Elementary Family Resources Coordinator Mandy Heacock said that because of increased awareness of the program, she has more than 500 pairs of shoes for children this year and will serve students in both FCS and Frankfort Independent Schools. 

"I don't think they will fit in my office," Heacock said, gesturing to many boxes of shoes stacked in a classroom at Elkhorn Elementary. 

The program, which is called "Turning Bare Feet into Learning Feet," provides a pair of shoes per student. Students must be present to pick out their kicks, Heacock said. 

The shoes are mostly tennis shoes, but some boots, dress shoes and a select number of sandals are in the mix. Sizes range from a toddlers' size 7 to a men's 14. If a size outside of that range is needed, Heacock will try to find a pair after the event.

Heacock said she wants students to have shoes that they can wear year-round. For some children, this will be the the only pair of shoes they get this year. 

"I just feel like it gives them a sense of ownership, like they got to pick these shoes out and they are just for them," Heacock said. "It's just a good start for a school year." 

When the Family Resource Youth Service Centers distributed shoes last year, Heacock remembers that there was a pair of purple velvet boots and she wanted to see who would be the lucky kid to get them. Heacock encouraged multiple girls to try them on and, finally, one girl picked out the boots on her own. Both Heacock and the girl were excited about the find. 

Capital City Church, Providence Church, First United Methodist Church and other community donors have given money or shoes to support the program. Heacock said Shoe Carnival gave discounts on shoes that she bought for the program. 

Some school supplies and hygiene bags will be available for students at the Saturday event, which will be at Elkhorn Elementary from 9 a.m. to noon. Students must be present to pick out their shoes. 

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