By Matt Clevenger
For Miami Valley Today
TIPP CITY — Students at Tippecanoe Middle School donated more than 2,500 brand-new pairs of socks to Shoes 4 the Shoeless on Monday, April 22, wrapping up a week-long sock drive held in collaboration with Living Simply Soap.
“They exceeded everyone’s expectations,” said Tanya Brown, owner of Living Simply Soap. “Over 2,500 pairs of socks; I had no idea they would be able to do such a fantastic job.”
The idea to collaborate on the sock drive came about after a small group of sixth-grade girls heard about the recent fire at Living Simply Soap’s store in downtown Tipp City.
“I had three girls come to see me,” TMS counselor Anne Toohey said. “They said ‘Mrs. T. we want to help, we want to rebuild the store.’ They wanted to hold a fundraiser for the store.”
“We can’t hold a fundraiser for a business in school, so I said to them ‘let’s write Mrs. Brown who owns Living Simply Soap and see what she needs help with,” she said.
The students wrote a letter, and Toohey delivered it to the store for them.
“The girls heard about our fire,” Brown said. “They reached out to me and wanted to do something to help. We had been wanting to do a sock drive for Shoes 4 the Shoeless, but when the fire happened it sort of took us out of being able to do that. When the girls approached me, I thought maybe they would be the perfect individuals to do the sock drive for us.”
The group agreed to take over the sock drive, and word soon spread among other TMS students and teachers.
“It started off we were at like 200-300 pairs,” Toohey said. “You just brought them to your first period teacher. Then the day before it was going to be completed, we had about 700 pairs of socks and we were like ‘we want to get to 1,000; that would be really cool.”
“We got to 2,500 pairs,” she said. “The kids were super excited.”
Shoes 4 the Shoeless is a Dayton-based non-profit group started in 2010 by Kris Horlacher, RN, BSN. So far, the group has provided shoes and socks to approximately 90,000 children, working year-round in 12 different counties.
“We provide brand-new gym shoes and socks for children in poverty,” Horlacher said. “We are a mobile shoe store; we set up in a gym, we bring teams of vol-unteers and we become a mobile shoe store where children are referred to us.”
Another separate group of TMS students is currently planning to volunteer as a group, running the mobile shoe store on one of its trips.
“It’s the biggest unmet need for children in poverty,” Horlacher said. “This is a big health need for children who can’t walk normally because their feet hurt, or they are freezing cold in the winter.”
Living Simply Soap will re-open soon, starting with a pop-up shop that is opening on Main Street in Tipp City on May 4; the store should be completely back to normal again by late summer or ear-ly fall.
Brown says she would like to work with students again to do another sock drive in the future. “We’re going to do this as an ongoing project,” she said. “I couldn’t be more proud of these young ladies. They took on the responsibility and just did a fantastic job.”