MPP students sent home with holiday surprise

Madison shows off her brand new “My Little Pony” shoes. Madison is in Macon Program for Progress’ Head Start program. An anonymous donor purchased 285 pairs of shoes to present to the children before Christmas.

Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer

Macon Program For Progress students received a surprise just in time for the holiday when an anonymous donor provided shoes for every child — 285 pairs— at the center. 

“One of the program’s regular 0-5 Head Start volunteers came in to play music for the children,” said Susie McCoy, 0-5 Head Start Director. “She expressed that she and her daughter would like to purchase a new pair of shoes for all of the children enrolled in the program.  The donor asked the Family and Community Outreach Specialist, Felicia Roberts, to provide her with a list of the sizes and genders.” 

The anonymous donor provided 285 pairs of shoes to the school, which was enough for every child who wears shoes— because the center does have two infant rooms who are too small to walk and need shoes, those children were not included. 

McCoy noted that after the shoes were purchased by the donor and delivered, the staff joined forces to get the shoes separated by size, gender, and classroom. The shoes were presented to the children at the end of the school day in their classroom.

“It definitely had a huge impact on the children and families,” said McCoy. “Cold weather means needing warmer clothes, coats, gloves, as well as, a good pair of warm shoes. The families were very grateful for the help they receive from donors such as this and from the 0-5 Head Start Program.  Felecia Roberts shared that she had run into one of the children as they were getting picked up from school. The child stopped her, tugged on her shirt, and said, “‘Guess what? I just got a brand new pair of sparkly shoes.  You want to see?’ She was smiling from ear to ear and so excited.”

Julia Bates’ daughter Madison came home from school and couldn’t wait to show her mother her new shoes. 

“My little girl absolutely adored her shoes,” said Bates. “My Little Pony is one of her favorite things and she was so excited to see them light up. She put them on immediately and wanted to show them to every person we passed in the store. Seeing how proud she was and knowing that many other kids – especially the ones who may have never owned new shoes – were just as excited which was probably the best gift I received this year.”

Bates said that while she works hard to be able to provide for her children, the extra help is alway appreciated, especially around the holidays. 

“I had picked her up and she had a gift bag,” said Bates. “I thought at first it was from the teachers but once I saw the note it just touched my heart that someone would give to every child in the program. I am lucky enough to be able to provide shoes for my girls, though not always new. But being a single mom with no support, every bit helps. Especially when they outgrow them so fast at this age. I know many families aren’t capable of buying shoes at all. So I’m sure it meant even more to them.”

Because the donor wanted to remain anonymous, Bates took to Facebook to show her appreciation in hopes it would reach the donor. “It was just really good to see that generosity and compassion, especially during the holiday,” said Bates. “I wasn’t sure the donor would actually see my post but, I felt I needed to thank them in some way.”

Holly Ruke also posted a photo of the shoes her son received and to thank the donor. “Thank you to the generous donor who blessed each child in the center my son goes to, with a new pair of tennis shoes,” said Ruke. “Thank you and God bless.”

McCoy noted that the holiday shoe donation is just one of many examples about the type of community Macon County is. 

“Macon County is a very loving, caring community and this is just one way that demonstrates what our youth means to the community,” she said. “The smiles and the happiness that resulted from this random act of kindness will have lasting memories.”