“Boots & Shoes” returned to Sturgis on Wednesday.
The event is a collaboration between the Sturgis’ Elks and Kiwanis clubs which provide footwear for children. But that’s not all the kids get. They also get a pizza night and a visit with Santa Claus and a gift. Ayres-Oak Insurance also provides hats, gloves and socks. Members of the Key Club, a branch of the Sturgis Kiwanis Club at Sturgis High School, also attend the event.
This year things were a little different at Boots & Shoes.
On the one hand, the event took place at the Sturges-Young Center for the Arts. The boots and shoes are usually sourced from Willer’s in Sturgis, but this year there have been supply issues, said Natalie Boland of the Sturgis Elks Club. Instead, this year the boots came from Columbia Sportswear. Children were given boots only as opposed to a choice of boots or shoes.
It was a bit of a guessing game as to what boot sizes to have on hand at the event, Boland said.
“We did our best to try and figure out what sizes we would need,” she said. “I have a list to order anything we don’t have on hand for the kids and make sure we get it for them.”
Another change: Boots & Shoes has been opened to children from Kindergarten to Grade 5. In the past, it was a K-2 event. About 85 children participated this year.
Also this year, parents transported their children to the event, rather than volunteers picking them up.
Boland wished to thank the many volunteers who made Boots & Shoes possible.
Brian Oswald, president of the Sturgis Kiwanis Club, said members of Elks and Kiwanis have been working together to make the event happen for years. And the clubs work well together, he said.
“Our two clubs share a common mission which is to work and help children in the community,” he said. “Teaming up together makes more sense. It’s a great relationship.
Oswald also commented on the large number of volunteers at Boots & Shoes and their age range.
“It’s great to see some of the younger kids helping out and also some of the longtime members who have been giving for a long time,” he said.