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Children in Bellevue have a fit Thursday, courtesy of Samaritan’s Feet, and a good time is had by all

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

Samaritan’s Feet continued its four-day mission  to provide more than 2,000 new shoes for children in Northern Kentucky schools.

A group of children wait to return to school after getting their new shoes Thursday (photos by Judy Clabes and Mark Hansel)

After providing shoes for 450 pre-K through sixth grade students in Newport Wednesday, Samaritan’s Feet was in Bellevue Thursday morning to give new pairs of shoes and socks to children there.

Samaritan’s Feet is an international foundation with the goal of “Creating a World with Zero Shoeless Children.”

Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, an event sponsor was, among those volunteering Thursday.

“In my 14 years of being involved in this kind of stuff, this is just so special,” Keene said. “You’re helping children, what’s not to like about that?”

The effort got a boost Thursday from a group of volunteers from Seven Hills Church, including Michelle Flaugh of Florence and her daughter, Kyra.

After volunteering for almost four hours, Michelle Flaugh of Florence washes her daughter, Kyra’s, feet Thursday.

“I homeschool my daughter and her heart is to serve, so I wanted to give her this opportunity,” Flaugh said. “Watching her made everything worthwhile. She’s an only child, so giving her the opportunity to see children who don’t have as much and for her to be able to  love other children, because she doesn’t have younger siblings, is great.”

Kyra Flaugh said she was excited to participate as soon as she heard about the event.

“First I was a runner, then I became a foot-washer, because I love little kids,” she said. “I serve with them at my church sometimes and I just love helping out.”

The volunteers were split into several groups.

Ste Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder switches out a tub of water Thursday.

Some helped fit the children with shoes, the ‘runners’ went back and forth to shoe tables, getting the new shoes and socks for the children, who had a shoe size on their name tags.  Another group kept small tubs filled with clean soapy water for the symbolic washing of feet.

The large selection of athletic shoes included an array of bright colors and a few with popular characters from the Disney Frozen movie or the Paw Patrol television show.

Most of the children found a good fit right away but some had to try on a few pair. A few even took a pair that was a little bigger that they needed because they liked the style or color and “would grow into them.”

Bellevue-Dayton Fire Chief Chris Adkins also volunteered Thursday after seeing something about the event on television.

“I thought it would be something really cool to be a part of,” Adkins said. “I work in these two cities, and my daughter goes to school here as well. I work here in these communities, I see these kids outside, I see the teachers, so I said, ‘Why not?’”

Bellevue-Dayton Fire Chief Chris Adkins volunteered Thursday to help some of the kids he sees every day in the cities he serves.

Bellevue Independent Schools Superintendent Robb Smith, said what he is most pleased about is the program supplements some of the teachings in the schools, which includes more than academics.

“We often teach the qualities of care, compassion and love and if we can put a spotlight on the crisis around the world of children not having shoes, that’s important,” Smith said. “Even though our kids live in this privileged Western world, I hope this creates a sense of empathy and maybe they will take this experience and pass it forward – and in the meantime get a cool pair of shoes.”

Samaritan’s Feet and a group of volunteers will be in Dayton today, before returning to Newport Monday.

Since its founding in 2003, Samaritan’s Feet and its partners have distributed over 6.5 million pairs of shoes in 91 countries and 366 U.S. cities, and counting.

To learn more about Samaritan’s Feet and its founder, Manny Ohonme, who as a young boy from Nigeria, got his first pair of shoes at the age of nine, more than 30 years ago, click here.

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

More photos from Thursday:

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