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

2016 Brews and Shoes

2016 brews and shoes

Wednesday, May 25 | 5 – 7 pm 
Arcadia Brewing Co., Kalamazoo

Silent Auction • Appetizers • Beer

Join us for the 3rd Annual Brews & Shoes! You’ll be helping raise funds to provide new shoes for K-5 students. $10 or a new pair of children’s athletic shoes gets your foot in the door. Bring your friends! (Carpooling is recommended.)


Spring 2016 Newsletter

spring newsletterOur spring newsletter has sprung – and we gave it a makeover! Here’s a sneak peek at what’s inside:

  • Many thanks to Gina Fischer and the KVCC Design Center for creating our new logo and branding
  • Upcoming Events: Brews & Shoes, Summer Shoe Distribution and more
  • Reflections on the Past 10 Years, by Valerie Denghel, Founder
  • Community Impact: In Their Own Words
  • Shopping online? Why you should shop Amazon Smile…

Dive in! Spring 2016 Newsletter


WATCH: 10 Years Of Smiles

This year, we’re not just celebrating 10 years of helping students start school on the right foot with a new pair of shoes. We’re celebrating 10 years of confidence. We’re celebrating 10 years of smiles. We’re proud to share with you our anniversary video, where you can see the students’ smiles and hear a teacher describe how important First Day Shoe Fund’s mission is.


10th Anniversary Press Release

Happy Anniversary, First Day Shoe Fund!

class thanks2016 marks a whole decade of providing new shoes to school-age children in Kalamazoo County! Since our founding in 2006, First Day Shoe Fund has distributed more than 19,500 pairs of new shoes to students.

Throughout the past 10 years, we’ve expanded to support more school districts, partnered with many nonprofit organizations for distributions, hired a part-time Executive Director, and so much more.

Read more in our 10th anniversary press release.

‘Brews & Shoes’ Event to Benefit First Day Shoe Fund

KALAMAZOO—First Day Shoe Fund is excited to announce the return of its “Brews & Shoes” event on Wednesday, May 13, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Arcadia Brewing Company, 701 E. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo. The purpose of the event is to raise awareness for First Day Shoe Fund’s mission, generate additional supporters and volunteers, and collect monetary and shoe donations in support of future work in the community.


Admission to the event is a minimum donation of $10 or a new pair of athletic shoes per person. Preferred shoe sizes are youth size 11 through adult size 10.


Event attendees will receive one drink ticket and light appetizers.


Each year, First Day Shoe Fund works to distribute a new pair of athletic shoes to children in Kalamazoo, Comstock, and WoodsEdge schools who qualify for free or reduced lunch.


“Our vision at First Day Shoe Fund is to ensure that all students start school off on equal footing,” said executive director Heather Haigh. “We had a great turnout for last fall’s Brews & Shoes with overwhelming donations and attendance, which certainly helped our mission. We are looking forward to another successful event this year as well.”


Board president Ann Gunia said, “The Brews & Shoes event is a fun opportunity to spread the word about First Day Shoe Fund and our work in the community while enjoying an evening at Arcadia.”


Since 2006, First Day Shoe Fund has distributed more than 13,000 pairs of new athletic shoes to qualifying students in Kalamazoo County.


Registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, First Day Shoe Fund is funded by generous donations from foundations, corporations, and individuals. All donations are tax-deductible.


Those interested in volunteering, hosting a new shoe drive, or supporting the program with a tax deductible donation are asked to visit, follow the organization’s Facebook page at, follow the organization on Twitter @FirstDayShoe, or email first­


Donations to First Day Shoe Fund may be made via PayPal at or by mailing a check or money order payable to: First Day Shoe Fund, P.O. Box 2751, Kalamazoo, MI 49001.

‘Brews & Shoes’ Event to Benefit First Day Shoe Fund (pdf)

Brews & Shoes – 2015 Invitation

Help raise awareness of First Day Shoe Fund by sharing the electronic Brews & Shoes invitation.

2015 Brews & Shoes Invitation

Wednesday, May 13, 2015
5 – 7 p.m.
Arcadia Brewing in Kalamazoo, MI