When you think about helping the needy, it is easy to think about providing food or clothing, but what about shoes? It might not be your first thought, but they are necessary to protect our feet, and they are a really important part of keeping people healthy. Luckily, Mission: Feet First is working to provide access to comfortable, well-fitting shoes for everyone in our community.
Started in 2010 by Emily and Keith Davis, owners of Fleet Feet, Mission: Feet First was created to address the need for shoes in the local homeless population. They found that in cases where returned shoes were unsellable, they didn’t have a great outlet to reuse them, so the shoes were being donated to Goodwill. They decided they could fill a direct need in the community by working with local nonprofits, like The Winston-Salem Rescue Mission, to get these shoes to people who really needed them. They bought a trailer and, eventually, a second trailer to organize the inventory and had them retrofitted so they could keep things in place as they took the inventory all over the community to service this need. Over time, they discovered that they could make an even bigger impact by focusing on children as well. By working with Title One Schools, they started to see how important this really was. Since 2010, they have been able to blend their passion for good fitting shoes with their love of helping those in need. Mission: Feet First has grown to the point that every year they fit more than 1,000 people for new shoes. “We step up and provide shoes whenever we are asked, and there is a true need,” said Emily. “They rely solely on donations to keep their inventory stocked.”
This fall, they took their mission one step further by providing 800 children with new running shoes for school. The Big Fit took place the week of September 10thand provided shoes for children in eight schools between Davidson and Forsyth Counties. “For a number of years, I’ve had this vision of fitting tons of kids for new shoes to get them ready for the new school year,” said Davis. “When we fit in-need kids for shoes, we see kids wearing shoes way too short, too big and shoes that are very worn out. Many of these kids wear a sibling’s hand-me-downs because there are no financial resources to get a new pair. That’s where we come in.” The Inaugural Big Fit event was funded by Raise Them Well, locally owned by Emily & Wiggy Saunders, and Aubrey & Holli Linville, founders of the AJ Linville Foundation.
On November 3, 2018, Mission: Feet First is partnering with The Winston-Salem Rescue Mission for the 7thAnnual Mission 5K. This event prides itself on being the most Christian-based 5K in town. There will be motivational Scriptures all along the course and WBFJ music at the finish line. The heart of this event is really about joy. By working with the Rescue Mission, they motivate the men in residence there to prove to themselves that they can achieve something if they put their mind to it. “All the men at the mission are given the opportunity to register for the race at no cost, and we fit them with shoes a month prior to the race. These men carry the burden of their backgrounds, and when they complete the race, they are beaming with pride that they were able to see their achievement,” said Davis. They also work with Ainsley’s Angels to provide able-bodied runners to push mentally and physically disabled children through the course in specialized strollers. “Seeing these children so elated is a great joy!” Davis continued. There is a 5K walk, a 5K run and a one-mile fun run. You also won’t want to miss the post-race expo with food, music and fellowship. You can register at www.fleetfeetws.com/mission5K or at Fleet Feet Winston-Salem.
Mission: Feet First is a 501(c)3. Financial contributions allow for purchases of additional new shoe inventory. If you would like more information about this organization or to make a donation, visit www.missionfeetfirst.com.