Fall 2017 Newsletter

Another school year is under way, and with it our fall newsletter. Inside you will find:

  • Summer Distribution round-up – a summary of what we accomplished together and a thank you to our volunteers and partners!
  • Exciting new partnerships with South County Community Services/Generous Hands Inc., Bombas & Laborers Local 355
  • A Note From The Executive Director
  • Many Thanks to people and organizations who have helped First Day Shoe Fund in recent month

Check it out here: Fall 2017 FDSF Newsletter

Fall 2017 Newsletter Cover

Bombas Donates 5,000 Pairs of Socks to First Day Shoe Fund

Bombas, a sock manufacturer who donates one pair of socks for each pair sold, generously donated 5,000 pairs of socks to First Day Shoe Fund to be distributed to children in Kalamazoo! This will enable every student who receives new shoes through our program this fall to receive a brand new pair of colorful, stylish socks as well. Thank you Bombas for your incredible gift.

Our summer distribution program has allowed us to begin distributing socks to children preparing to go back to school with new, stylish socks to match their new shoes:

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2017 KPS Summer School Shoe Distribution

From July 24-27 First Day Shoe Fund was fortunate to be a guest of the Kalamazoo Public Schools summer school programs at King-Westwood and Milwood Elementaries. We thank Kalamazoo Public Schools for their partnership in this annual summer program, from the hard work of faculty, staff and administrators to the use of school grounds to reach children in need of shoes. Check out the photo slideshow below to see First Day Shoe Fund volunteers at work with local students (photo credit Fran Dwight):

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Together with an amazing group of dedicated volunteers we were able to fit brand new athletic shoes on the feet of 377 students at King-Westwood and 355 students at Milwood. They will have brand new shoes when the first day of school arrives! More KPS students will have the opportunity to receive shoes at our KPS Community Shoe Distribution & Resource Fair on Wednesday, August 9th.

Over 100 volunteer shifts were completed to serve 732 children over the course of just four days. Thank you to all of our volunteers who participated in summer school this year, including groups from:

  • Advia Credit Union
  • Families of WMU Football Coaches
  • First Day Shoe Fund Board of Directors
  • Flowserve
  • Fran Dwight Photography
  • Kalamazoo Public Schools
  • Raymond James Financial
  • Stryker Medical
  • Stryker Instruments
  • United Party & Event Services
  • West Michigan Laborers Local 355
  • And many more dedicated individuals!

Fitting shoes on happy kids can work up quite an appetite, so we keep our volunteers fed. Thank you to Dr. Terina Harvey and Linda Pfarr of Kalamazoo Public Schools for coordinating food donations from the following:

  • Big Apple Bagels
  • D&W Fresh Market
  • Dunkin Donuts
  • Erbelli’s Gourmet Pizzeria
  • Gordon Food Service
  • Harding’s Supermarket
  • Hungry Howie’s Pizza
  • Meijer
  • Papa John’s
  • Pepsi
  • Pizza Hut/Trigo Hospitality
  • Tim Horton’s
  • WalMart

Thank you to all supporters of First Day Shoe Fund for making summer programming possible. We look forward to serving even more children this fall!

2017 KPS Community Shoe Distribution – Wednesday, August 9th

First Day Shoe Fund
Community Distribution 2017

2017 Community Distribution Poster

Your child qualifies for FREE athletic shoes if all 4 apply:

– Attends Kalamazoo Public Schools
Pre-Kindergarten to 5th Grade
– Qualifies for Free or Reduced-Price Lunch at School

  • Did not receive shoes during summer school

    Shoe Pick-Up Place and Time:
        Maple Street Magnet Middle School
    922 West Maple Street ~ Kalamazoo ~
    Maple St. Entrance please
    ** Wednesday, August 9th
    2:30 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Your child must be there to be fitted for shoes• Questions? 269-271-5527 | firstdayshoefund@gmail.com |  www.firstdayshoefund.org

First Day Shoe Fund welcomes two new members to board of directors

At January’s board of directors meeting First Day Shoe Fund welcomed two new members to our board of directors, Allison Birmingham and Doug Pearce. We are excited to have their energy and knowledge on board to help advance First Day Shoe Fund’s mission in Kalamazoo County!

Allison is currently a Wealth Management Advisor at Greenleaf Trust. Originally from the east side of the state, Allison earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a focus on corporate finance from Central Michigan University. Allison is a CERTIFIED WEALTH STRATEGIST® practitioner as well as a CERTIFIED COLLEGE PLANNING SPECIALIST®. Allison joined the board in 2017, hoping to make an impact in an area which she shares a strong passion – underprivileged children in our community. When not working or helping with the First Day Shoe Fund, Allison enjoys spending time with her three children and watching them compete in numerous sporting events, coaching, and cheering on Michigan football!

Doug is a scientist and project team leader at Zoetis. He earned his bachelor’s degree in molecular and cell biology from The University of Connecticut, his master’s degree in microbial ecology from Western Michigan University, and is currently pursuing his PhD. Doug joined the FDSF board in 2017. When not working for FDSF, Doug is a part-time fitness instructor, partakes in numerous home improvement projects, and enjoys going to the movies. He currently resides in the Milwood neighborhood with his partner, Zac Bauer, and their two dogs, Duncan and Ketchup.

You can learn more about our volunteer team of leaders on the board of directors by clicking here.

Dine at Latitude 42 on 12/6 to benefit First Day Shoe Fund!

Latitude 42 will donate 20% of all food sales between 5:00-8:00 PM on Tuesday, December 6th. Come get some great food and support First Day Shoe Fund while you eat. Thank you to our hosts at Latitude 42!

Latitude 42 is located at 7842 Portage Rd., and is family-friendly. Latitude 42 has also committed to donate $1 for each slice of cheesecake sold in the month of December. Who can turn down guilt-free cheesecake? You can RSVP and invite your friends to our Facebook event by clicking here.

Latitude 42

Located at 7842 Portage Rd.

First Day Shoe Fund provides new athletic shoes to school-age children in Kalamazoo County who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. We believe that all children should start school on equal footing. Last year we distributed 4,371 pairs of shoes locally!

Fall 2016 Newsletter

Our fall newsletter is out! Inside you will find:

  • Summer Distribution round-up – a summary of what we accomplished together and a thank you to our volunteers and partners!
  • What People Are Saying: Highlights from our survey of participants in this year’s summer distribution
  • A Note From The Executive Director
  • Many Thanks to some tremendous supporters from Summer 2015
  • 5 ways to Donate, Volunteer, Participate.

Check it out here! Fall 2016 Newsletter

Communities in Schools of Kalamazoo Reflects on Our Partnership

Communities in Schools of Kalamazoo has long been a crucial partner for First Day Shoe Fund. To honor our 10th anniversary, CIS published a blog post reflecting on our work together.

“Partnerships, like most things in life, begin by putting one foot in front of the other. The first steps for Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo (CIS) and First Day Shoe Fund (FDSF) go back to early 2000 when Valerie Denghel was a tutor at Edison Environmental Science Academy with CIS. Valerie noticed some children without appropriate shoes for school. So Valerie began buying shoes for one child at a time. Valerie went from buying shoes for individual children to taking a giant step and founding the First Day Shoe Fund.

First Day Shoe Fund, which believes that all children should start school on equal footing, is celebrating their ten year anniversary and we couldn’t be happier for this tremendous milestone.”

Read more at the CIS blog, entitled “Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids.”

We thank Communities in Schools for their partnership and all that they do to help provide shoes and much more to children in our community!


Meet Our New Executive Director

John Curran

John Curran

It is our pleasure to announce that John Curran will be the next Executive Director of our growing 10-year-old organization!

“We are thrilled to welcome John to the First Day Shoe Fund,” says Board President, Ann Gunia. “John brings a hard-working attitude and a passion for social equity to the role and will be instrumental to the continued growth of the organization.”

A lifelong resident of Southwest Michigan, John has been active in the Kalamazoo community since arriving a decade ago to attend Western Michigan University. He has worked professionally on numerous social justice and political campaigns, in neighborhood organizing with Creating Change of Battle Creek, as a constituent relations advisor to the Michigan State Senate, and most recently in the Office of Admission at Kalamazoo College.

“I am beyond excited for the opportunity to continue the great work of Heather Haigh and the board,” Curran expressed. “They have put in place a phenomenal infrastructure and I look forward to helping First Day Shoe Fund grow even stronger to help more kids in Kalamazoo County.”

John is currently pursuing a Masters in Business Administration at Western Michigan University and lives in Kalamazoo’s West Douglas Neighborhood with his wife, Sakhi Vyas. You can reach him at firstdayshoefund@gmail.com.