Community organizing back-to-school shoe drive for children in Shelby County

WATCH: Starting school year on right foot in South Memphis

SHELBY CO., Tenn. — South Memphis community leaders are preparing to supply name brand shoes to school aged children in Shelby County.

Pretty soon, organizers are going to unpack boxes filled with shoes.

Helen Broughton started the back to school shoe drive at Saint Andrew AME Church in South Memphis 27 years ago after a student she taught missed school because he didn't have the basic necessities.

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"He was absent one day and he came back two days later, and I said what happened. And he said, ‘Somebody stole my shoes.' This is a high school kid," she explained.

Broughton, who's a retired chemistry teacher, said even elementary students would miss several days of class.

FOX13 caught up with volunteers at the South Memphis church where they were placing hundreds of shoes on the back of a truck.

Everything is sorted by shoe size.

"Right here, we have girls' size six and a half shoes," Broughton said.

On Saturday, thousands of kids will stand in line just to get the necessities they need to help them focus in the classroom.

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"They will line up and someone will size them right there in the parking lot and once those sizes are given, they will go inside. And when they're called in families, they will come inside and be fitted," Broughton explained.

Saint Andrew's Pastor Byron Moore said every year, thousands of kids line up outside before the doors even open just so they can get a pair of shoes.

"We embraced a family who had been at the shoe giveaway. And we were able to see that family come to school and have that parent tell us that if it had not been for the shoe giveaway and the school supply give away, they were going to have to wait two weeks until he received additional income," he explained.

"A child that's missed two and three days of school, the learning that happens, that child has missed that," Broughton stated.

The shoe drive is 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3 behind the church gymnasium. The gates open at 7 a.m. and they will start the shoe fitting at 7:30 a.m.

The pastor is also asking people to drop off shoe donations between 7:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday at the same location.

The gymnasium and St. Andrew Community Life Center (where the shoe giveaway is taking place in both buildings) is located at 1492 Mississippi Boulevard in South Memphis.

They are requesting name-brand new shoes. The church is also giving away backpacks filled with school supplies.

Their goal is to give supplies to more than 1,000 school aged children.