Family Foundations Early Head Start Provides Free Shoes for Children through Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids Holiday Giving Program

Thanks to Payless ShoeSource and the Office of Child Development Family Foundations Early Head Start (EHS) program, 300 feet were a lot warmer and more comfortable over the holiday season.

On December 16, three buses full of children, their families, and EHS staff pulled in to the West Mifflin Century III Mall parking lot and packed in to a Payless store. They were greeted by Payless staff, who helped children to measure their feet and helped them try on pairs of shoes. Parents were given coupons to cover the cost of shoes that the children picked out. As some parents helped their children excitedly pick out shoes, others were looking for shoes to give as Christmas presents to their older children, who were in school that day. Any child in school up to 18 years of age could receive a pair of shoes, and a total of 150 children received new shoes through the event.

Last November, Payless selected the Tri-Boro Family Foundations EHS site as an official partner organization for Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids, an annual giving program. The site is one of 800 charitable agencies that participate in the program across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Latin America. "In its third year, the goal of the Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids program remains the same—to provide footwear, a basic necessity, to children who might otherwise go without," said LuAnn Via, Payless President and CEO.

For some children, these new shoes replaced worn-out shoes that wouldn’t hold up in the winter. Others only owned flip-flops before picking out a pair of new shoes.

As the economy continues to languish during this winter season, new shoes are particularly important for families in need. For Via, responding to this need is the Payless Gives program’s primary goal. “The success of the program over the past two years, and the number of children and families we have been able to assist, continues to drive our efforts,” said Via. “Unemployment is still very high, affecting many families that struggle to provide their children with basic essentials. This is especially challenging during the holidays.”

Mandy Slavich, the Tri-Boro site coordinator, noted that these issues are particularly difficult for families in the communities served by the Tri-Boro EHS site. The recession has had a lasting impact on Braddock and surrounding areas. Last year, the borough’s largest employer, UPMC Braddock Hospital, closed, leaving many without jobs. Many parents in the community are struggling to find full-time work or schooling programs that could help them provide for their children.

After opening the doors to its Tri-Boro site in Braddock last February, around the corner from the former Braddock hospital grounds, Family Foundations soon became a source of strong community interest, providing support services for 40 families in the area. Staff went door to door in the neighborhood to tell community members about the program and to recruit families. News of the program’s services also spread quickly through word of mouth.

According to Slavich, many community members were surprised by the range of support provided by the program for low-income families, including in-home child development support, parenting training, and support/referral services for health, nutrition, education, and career development. “For some individuals, it almost sounded too good to be true,” Slavich said. As the site continues to serve the area, the community has increasingly welcomed Family Foundations as a support for Braddock and surrounding areas.

For information about or referral to Family Foundations EHS, please call Angie Tookes at 412-233-9430.

For more information about the Tri-Boro site, please call Mandy Slavich, site coordinator, at 412-727-1508 ext. 200.


Click here to learn more about the Payless Gives program.