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Kzoo teacher fundraising to get 300 new pairs of shoes for kids living in poverty

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Sherria VanSparrentak is used to fundraising for her students.

She’s a pre-K teacher with Kalamazoo RESA Head Start and she’s raised money in the past to get her 3- and 4-year-old students boots, coats, backpacks and nap time blankets.

This year, she decided to do shoes and not just for the kids in her classroom. 

“So I applied for shoes, just over 300 pairs for a large chunk of our students,” said Mrs. Vans, as everyone called her. “We service 618 students. And quite a few kids come in ready for school with shoes but there are many who do not.”

She’s fundraising through Donorschoose.org as she’s done in the past. It’s a website created for the public to help teachers across the country with special classroom projects, like Mrs. Vans’ shoe project. 

“It breaks your heart when they come to school and their shoes are too small or they have holes in them or they’re completely worn out,” she said.  “It makes it hard for them to run and keep up with the other kids because their laces are broken.”

Mrs. Vans said she does the project not only to help her students but to ease the financial burden for their parents. She knows shoes can sometimes be too expensive to buy.

And as much as teachers want to help, they can’t afford it either, she said.

“I spend a lot of money in my classroom,” Mrs. Vans said.  “And then to turn around and see kids that don’t have clothes, don’t have shoes, coats things like that to come to school, what I would consider the bare minimum, I try to find a way to help them.”

So she’s leaving the request up through October. She hopes that donors will choose her project and help give hundreds of students new shoes for school.

“Shoes are very essential to a child’s education,” she said. “They help them to be comfortable to be ready to learn and would be really beneficial.”

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