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When the school runs in August, UnityPoint Health – Fort Dodge and Athletes For Education and Success work together to ensure that sixth graders in the community have a new pair of shoes to walk around the halls.

The two local organizations have partnered to donate shoes for incoming sixth-graders for the start of the 2022-2023 school year.

Shannon McQuillan, vice president of human achievement at UnityPoint Health, said the hospital wants to do something directly for needy community students.

“We have engagement meetings within our organization, and one focus is on finding ways to help families and children in the community,” McQuillan said. “We wanted to do something about going back to school. We maintain school supplies that help but don’t directly affect children, so it’s great to be able to meet the needs of specific children. ”

IN “Program for new shoes back to school” was created for sixth-graders at Fort Dodge Middle School, St. Louis. Edmond Catholic School, Community Christian and St. Paul Lutheran School who qualify for a free or reduced school lunch.

“No. 1 We want to see students have a pair of reliable shoes,” said Charles Clayton, CEO of AFES.Many children are stressed that they do not have a pair of shoes. Entering high school, children begin to pay attention to fashion. So it will be nice for the children to walk around the halls with a new pair to increase their confidence. “

Qualified families must register by July 1. To register as a business supporting the program, call (515) 574-6607 or visit the Fort Dodge Community School District or the AFES Facebook pages.

“Kids wear shoes every day, and when school starts, kids love to have new shoes and clothes for the first day of school,” McQuillan said. “Lea Glasgow (CEO of UnityPoint Health Fort Dodge) and I met with Charles Clayton to come up with a plan on how to try to be successful in the first year.

McQuillan said the plan is to expand the program and hopefully add more evaluations as they continue to receive community support.

“This first year, we wanted to focus on one class and hope it was big enough to eventually provide shoes for sixth, seventh, and eighth graders,” McQuillan said. “We want to make an impact beyond Fort Dodge.

“We want to involve the community and business. We know they are passionate about children. When we started this, I had a big commitment to the business. They wanted to get on board immediately. “

The plan for the program is for all families to sign up by next Friday. Anonymous tags will be made for students, similar to the given tree, with the indicated size and gender. Local companies will then receive the labels.

“We will distribute the labels to the business and they will buy the shoes as part of engagement activities within their business or organization. We will deliver the labels on July 11. The companies will return our shoes by August 8.

“With AFES, the shoes will be grouped by size and gender. If companies want to contact, they can contact me at (515) 574-6511. ”

Clayton’s AFES group, which has taken over Operation Christmas in recent years, always embraces the opportunity to give back to the community.

“I think it’s a great idea because so many kids need it,” Clayton said. “Families and students don’t have to worry about buying shoes when they have so many other worries. With the price of gasoline and food, this can relieve some of the stress on parents.

“We want to develop this and I would like to get to the point of giving some assessments. This is a great example of community partnership and shows that Fort Dodge really cares.

Kingsgate Insurance was one of the first companies to get involved.

“We wanted to help for a number of reasons. First, I have children in the school system at about the same age, and because it’s close to the age range of this group, it’s very attractive, “said Ryan Smith, president of Kingsgate Insurance. “I’ve known Charles for a long time – he was actually one of my coaches. He has always been very active in society.

“It’s a chance to do something for all the right reasons.”

Smith, a Fort Dodge-born and current resident, said his team loves to give back.

“We grew up here – my father started his business a few years after he came to the community,” Smith said. “We had a humble beginning.

“Our team is incredibly generous when it comes to helping families around Christmas, so we decided it would be perfect.

CJ Bio America also joined this year and will help with the program.

“This is a good opportunity for local businesses to help those in need,” said Luke Palmer, ESG director at CJ Bio America and another native of the area. “This really corresponds to the mission of our company. We want to support the community that supports us.

“There were 20 children in my class at Otho (Primary School), and then I went to Southern High School. It’s hard enough to be nervous and scared to meet new kids… I can’t imagine how hard it would be if you didn’t have a good pair of shoes. As simple and small as it sounds, it gives children confidence and less worry.

“We think if we can help, we have to help.”

As the program progresses, McQuillan would like businesses to register in the fall, winter and spring of the 2023-24 school year.

“We would like businesses to continue to register as we plan and hope to expand,” McQuillan said. “There is a huge need for shoes at this age in our community.

“I feel we will have something special in the coming years and we want to see it grow.”

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