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Some things stick with you over the years. For me, it’s the kid with the blue shoes.

He was a kid who had behavioral issues and I’d seen him in my office before. He was in need of a lot of things. He acted out a lot. After I’d counseled him once, he came in again.

That’s when found out that he was in-between housing.

There are a lot of students that you don’t realize are bouncing around between houses or living out their cars until you really dig into their stories.

We found out this student was really in need of things. He didn’t have clothes, he didn’t have food coming in regularly, and his family was truly poor. I brought him into my office and asked him what his needs were.

Because I had seen him before, I knew that he didn’t have a good pair of PE shoes. He asked specifically for a pair of blue ones. I’ll never forget that.

Teen crouched near the school wall with a backpack looking concerned

I remember going to shop for him and I picked out 3 different ones for him. It was important to me to give him a choice. When I brought the pairs back, he took a really long time to try them all on. You could tell he was very interested and excited, and this wasn’t a kid who was overly friendly, kind, or outgoing. But there was something about this experience that you could tell mattered to him.

Every single time afterward when I saw him in the halls, he was wearing those shoes.

A few weeks later, I had to speak with him again and he was so much easier to talk to and able to open up. Probably because we were able to build a connection over the blue shoes. I wasn’t just another adult.

This story stuck with me about what Care to Learn does. Not only are you doing something that helps students by giving them something tangible, but you are doing something that makes them feel good. If a student feels good and feels like they can fit in with their friends, they are going to have a better experience at school.

Story written by Michelle Houghton, Director of Chapter Services. For more information about volunteering or to donate to Care to Learn, call 417-862-7771 or visit

Give the Gift of Shoes

Shoes made a world of difference for this boy. You can give that gift to someone else. For more information about volunteering or to donate to Care to Learn, call 417-862-7771 or visit

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