Short on shoes: The United Way needs your help to fulfill community need

Reporter: Claire Galt Writer: Melissa Montoya
Published: Updated:
The United Way said it needs more shoes to help the community. (CREDIT: WINK News)

A Southwest Florida nonprofit is in need of shoes to help the community.

United Way started the school year with tons of shoes, but now the shelves are empty.

Because of inflation, lots of parents face tough decisions about whether they can pay the rent, utilities, gas and food.

For some, school supplies almost feel like a luxury and the United Way Center helps those families.

Harriet Turner, a volunteer at the United Way, loves her job at the United Way Resource Center. The center gives kids in Lee, Glades and Hendry counties anything they need, whether it be backpacks, hygiene items, clothes and shoes.

She happily packs bags for children in need.

“I’m thankful to God to be able to help these little kids. I’m still helping kids. I’m packing the clothes for needy kids. And I love it,” Turner said.

Harriet Turner is a volunteer at the United Way. (CREDIT: WINK News)

If a child wanted a backpack, Turner could supply it, but at the moment, the center is short on shoes.

“It breaks our heart where we can’t fill any order, but especially when we’re talking about our elementary school students,” said United Way President Jeanine Joy. “These are such formative years. If they can’t concentrate because their shoes are too tight, or they’re falling apart, you know, that’s one more hurdle they’re going to have to overcome.”

Joy said the center distributed $700,000 worth of goods in 2020. In 2021, that number soared to $2.6 million.

And this year, the number of children in need is continuing to grow.

Edelyn Castellon, a senior program manager at the United Way, said sometimes students have to go dumpster diving to find the things they need.

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