ENID, Okla. — Foster Feet, a local nonprofit that provides shoes to children in need, is seeking the public's help with its back-to-school shoe distribution.
For the second year in a row, Foster Feet will distribute shoes to kids in need in conjunction with Feed the Neighborhood. Kids will receive vouchers at Feed the Neighborhood, at Stride Bank Center on Sunday, and the Foster Feet shoe distribution will be 5-8 p.m. Monday at Central Christian Church.
Patrick Anderson, father of Foster Feet founder Lauren Anderson, spoke Monday at Enid Rotary Club on the history of Foster Feet, what's kept it going, and the need for continued public support.
"A pair of pink boots two sizes too small," Anderson told his fellow Rotarians — that was the genesis of Foster Feet.
"It's really a story about our community, and our club, and how God uses all things — good things, bad things, broken things and tragic things — for his purposes and his goals," Anderson said.
Foster Feet got its start when Anderson's daughter, Lauren, was a freshman at Oklahoma Bible Academy. She visited a teacher's house who had just taken in Savannah, a 5-year-old foster child.
"She arrived like most foster children do," Anderson said, "with only the clothes on her back and a pair of pink boots that were two sizes too small."
From that experience, Lauren determined to collect shoes for children in foster care. A later tour of a DHS facility revealed only three pairs of shoes available to hand out to 225 foster children in the county.
Lauren took the project to OBA, where it became the school's Christmas project in 2015. With the help of Rotarians, St. Matthew's Episcopal Church and individual donations, the student-led project collected 225 pairs of shoes that first year.
Anderson said he figured that was the end of Foster Feet. But, the next spring, Lauren won a $1,500 youth prize for community improvement to further fund Foster Feet. When Anderson's mother, Patricia Anderson, died in November 2016, her memorial fund further boosted Foster Feet.
The growing nonprofit venture quickly outgrew its original space, but through Rotary connections, it found a new home at Central Christian Church.
Last year, Foster Feet partnered with Feed the Neighborhood for the first time, handing out shoes over two nights at Central Christian. Anderson said they ran out of shoes the first night, and used monetary donations to buy as many kids' shoes as they could find in town. They handed out 700 pairs in all.
By the end of it, Anderson Foster Feet was out of money and out of shoes. Again, he thought Foster Feet had run its course.
"I thought, 'OK, we had a good run with Foster Feet,'" Anderson said. "But, I think small, and God thinks big."
The next day, Open Door Church donated 1,800 pairs of shoes, and monetary donations began coming in again.
"Within a week, we had more shoes and more money than we had ever had before," Anderson said. "It's really become a tremendous community project."
With the support that's come in, Anderson said Foster Feet plans to hand out 1,000 pairs of shoes through Feed the Neighborhood this year.
And, from there, Anderson said Foster Feet's future is up to divine will.
"We want to continue this mission, and we will continue it as long as God leads us to," Anderson said, "and we hope you will be part of it, too."
Anyone who'd like to help distribute shoes for Foster Feet can meet at Central Christian Church, 1111 W. Broadway, 5-8 p.m. Monday.
"Help us put shoes on some kids' feet, and some smiles on their faces," Anderson said. "You won't regret helping out."
For more information on Foster Feet, visit their Facebook page or call (580) 233-1214.