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Shoe drives for kids: Two drives help young children and scholarship fund

Two shoe drive programs in January are different but have a common link of supporting local students -- Jamestown Dollars for Scholars and the Samaritan Feet program.

Shoes for the Jamestown Dollars for Scholars program will be collected Saturday, Jan. 12, during the doubleheader girls and boys high school basketball games at Jerry Meyer Arena. Both teams are playing against their respective Bismarck Century High School teams, the girls at 5:45 p.m. and the boys at 7:45 p.m.

New and gently used shoes have been collected at drop-off locations around Jamestown and Dollars for Scholars will receive a per-pound donation. The shoes are to be shipped overseas for micro business entrepreneurs to resell as an economic driver in poverty stricken areas.

“This is a great opportunity to look through closet to see what kind of shoes are available,” Lech said. “Bring the shoes to the games and the money for them goes to Dollars for Scholars.”

The goal is to collect 7,500 pairs of shoes, he said.

The Jamestown Dollars for Scholars chapter is one of several Scholarship America's programs. In 2016 alone the local chapter provided 23 graduating seniors from Jamestown High School with $22,750 in tuition based scholarship awards averaging $1,000, Lech said. In 2017 there were 25 scholarship to 22 students.

Samaritan Feet program

This is the second year that Jamestown has participated in the Samaritan Feet program. It was started by Sean Johnson, athletic director for the University of Jamestown, who organized a “barefoot game” as an incentive for the public to donate shoes.

The program started in 2003 with Manny Ohonme, a Nigerian who said the gift of his first pair of shoes from a missionary at age 9 changed his life, Johnson said. Ohonme went on to earn a basketball scholarship at the University of North Dakota- Lake Region and graduated with a master's degree before going on to create Samaritan Feet.

“Last year we collected more than 200 shoes and this year a student organization has already collected over 200 shoes,” Johnson said. “Our goal is to collect and distribute over 300 pairs of shoes to young people.”

This year’s barefoot game will be the 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, men’s basketball game between UJ and Concordia University, Nebraska, at Harold Newman Arena. Fans can get free admission by bringing a new pair of athletic shoes for toddlers sizes 10-13 and youth sizes 1-5.

The coaches and staff will be barefoot on the sidelines to draw attention to the event, Johnson said. Funds will also be accepted to buy new shoes, he said.

The shoes collected will be distributed to families at Harold Newman Arena from 10 a.m. to noon on Jan. 26, he said. The Jamestown Public School District and other school districts around Stutsman County are sending out flyers to families for anyone who might like to participate.