Children receive sneaker donations through a Reliant Community Credit Union program
CANANDAIGUA — Children at Canandaigua and Geneva elementary schools are sporting new kicks thanks to Reliant Community Credit Union's program to help them put their best Feet Forward.
Brand new sneakers were donated at four area schools last week including Canandaigua Primary-Elementary School and North Street School in Geneva to help less fortunate children.
“Having quality sneakers can make an impact on a child's school experience,” said Canandaigua PES Principal Brian Amesbury. “Having uncomfortable, worn-out shoes has an impact on a child's ability to be comfortable, pay attention in class and to run around during recess and physical education. We truly appreciate this donation and we know our students and families will appreciate this as well.”
Members of Reliant dropped off eight giant boxes containing 100 pairs of sneakers. Its Feet Forward program, begun last year, is a special community effort to donate $10,000 worth of quality sneakers to schools and organizations in several of the communities it serves.
“We work with schools in our footprint,” said Alisa Erbland, Reliant marketing communications specialist. “Being a part of the community we serve is really important. We sponsor a lot of community events and we're involved in the schools. We wanted to connect with schools and make a direct impact with children who attend the schools.”
The Canandaigua donation was coordinated through The Spot, an organization that works closely with the district to ensure children have the clothing and supplies they need to be successful.
Sarah Chilson Plante, The Spot founder, said five kids were ready to be sized and step right into their new footwear.
“I am so thankful for this donation,” she said. “There is nothing more important than the health, safety and education of our children, and this generous donation helps to ensure the neediest children in Canandaigua are set up for success in the classroom and in life.”
Erbland said additional pairs will be stored and distributed as they are needed.
Reliant personnel also dropped off 75 pairs each at North Street School in the Geneva City School District and at Perkins School in the Newark Central School District.
“Our students will be proud to have a brand new pair of shiny shoes that will keep their feet warm and dry,” said North Street School Principal Eric Vaillancourt. “It is hard for students to be able to focus on learning if their basic needs are not met. The donation from Reliant helps us further the needs of our students so that they are able to learn at high levels.”
Erbland said Reliant teams up with Fleet Feet Sports to purchase high-quality shoes that will last a long time.
“We've just been really thrilled with the enthusiasm and the positive feedback we've gotten from all of the schools,” she said. “It's heartwarming to see that our donation is making an impact.”
Erbland said a lot of people collect backpacks and school supplies, and Reliant was looking for something different that would not duplicate other efforts.
She said handing out sneakers also ties in with the company's existing overall focus on wellness and education.
To that end, Reliant, based in Sodus, annually sponsors an event with 5K and 10K runs or a 1-mile walk that raises money for its scholarship program. Moore than a Race, dedicated to the memory of Richard “Dick” Moore, Reliant's chairman of the board from 1986-2009, is conducted in mid-October.
Erbland said sneaker donations were also made at an elementary school in the Webster Central School District and more will be distributed next week within the Rush-Henrietta Central School District.
Sneakers were distributed last year to children in the Sodus and East Irondequoit central school districts. In its two years, the program has distributed 650 pairs of sneakers.
“The first year we did it, we told the districts that it was a pilot program,” Erbland said. “We've made a commitment to this program. Our plan right now is to continue with it just because we've seen the great impact.”