New shoes for the new year


This story is courtesy of Oakdale Electric Cooperative.

Take a moment to glance down at your feet. What do you see? For many, it is your feet comfortably tucked inside of a pair of gently worn, or new shoes. There’s a good chance these shoes might even coordinate with your chosen outfit. Moreover, both feet are warm, dry, cushioned, and protected from the weather elements. If feet could smile, yours would be grinning from the tip of the toes to the back of the heel, because they look and feel great!  

The view for one in five children in the United States is vastly different because their families can’t afford shoes.

When this child looks down, he sees shoes that don’t fit properly. This child is either squeezing his feet into a pair too small, or slipping in a size too large. The soles are worn down entirely, with strips of duct tape holding the shoes intact. His young feet are cold, wet, and exposed to possible injury. The shoes cause pain, and embarrassment, but this child can’t get rid of them, as it’s his only pair. 

A child’s behavior, self-esteem, physical activity, and school attendance can adversely be affected due to not owning suitable shoes. 

A recent inquiry to a local school district verified the above statistic to be true locally. Guidance counselors at the Tomah Area School District expressed the basic need of shoes for their students.  

School counselors, Maya Roe and Samantha Ahler, helped identify students who received a certificate for a new pair of shoes.

“The number of students in our district in need of shoes is alarming,” stated Samantha Ahler, school counselor at Tomah Area High School. She further elaborated, “I hear from teachers weekly about families going through different hard times.”  

Operation Round Up, the co-op’s community support fund that assists those in need, stepped up to help. The seven-member board of trustees approved a donation to provide 19 youth within the Tomah Area School District (TASD) with a gift certificate to select one pair of new shoes, or boots, for the New Year. School counselors were given the responsibility to select and disburse to the recipients most in need. 

“To be successful in the classroom, a student’s basic needs need to be met. Providing proper shoes allows for our students can put their focus on learning.” Ahler said.

Tomah Cash Store is partnering with Operation Round Up with the New Shoes for the New Year project. Store owner is John Rose (pictured at the top of the story).

Long-standing local business Tomah Cash Store agreed to partner with Operation Round Up by serving as the shopping destination. “Tomah Cash Store was asked to help due to their compassionate service, the variety of shoes and sizes available, and centralized downtown location,” stated Sue Rezin, Operation Round Up trustee member. “The Tomah Cash Store has been wonderful to work with. They offered guidance on how to handle the gifting to ensure it runs smoothly.”           

“The children we helped fit for shoes are in need. It is the Tomah Cash Store’s honor and privilege to help them pick out new shoes for their New Year,” said John Rose, Tomah Cash Store owner. “Seeing the happy, smiling faces is very satisfying.”

The power of a new pair of shoes can change a child’s life.  And it only took spare change.  

Operation Round-Up Board of Trustees: (L–R): Allen Bernhardt, Sandy Chroninger, Pat Christensen, Colleen Woggon, Bonnie Anderson, Sue Rezin, Lillian Jorgensen

What is Operation Round Up?  

Operation Round Up is a voluntary program in which co-op members agree to have their utility bill “rounded up” to the next whole dollar amount. The difference is placed in a separate fund that is used to support individuals, families, and community service organizations within the areas served by OEC. Total donations now exceed $80,000. 

Operation Round-Up is making a difference!