More than a thousand barefoot kids and children in tattered shoes and worn out slippers marched toward the expansive school grounds of the Sta. Fe Central School, the biggest school in this district, last Tuesday morning, they diligently fell in line behind designated scouts who carried their special “numbers.”
Unmindful of the searing pre-noon heat, the students came from the 17 schools of Sta. Fe who were chosen to receive premium slip-ons from Skechers donated through Operation Blessing Foundation Philippines.
Before it reached the school, volunteers painstakingly went through the list earlier submitted by the teachers, ensuring that they had the right sizes and carried the huge cartons containing the Skechers slip-ons toward the delivery vans en route to the school.
Representatives from the Youth with a Mission (YWAM), to spice up the occasion, even presented a brief puppet show to the delight of children.
The distribution of the Skechers slip-ons was both fun and tedious. Trying the slip-ons to each and every student was a daunting task. But the reward came from the sincerest “Thank Yous” from the students, a tight hug, a big smile and the happy races of some of the students as they clutched their new pair of shoes while othes waved them on air.
Mrs. Rosario Buena, district supervisor of the Sta. Fe district which covers 17 schools and 3,999 total school population, said that the students were eagerly looking forward to this day when they would receive and bring home new pairs of footwear.
“Wala na kasi talaga silang gamit na sapatos. Tinangay ni Yolanda ang lahat ng kanilang mga gamit, mula bahay, damit, school supplies at mga sapatos. Noong sabihan ko sila na magbibigay ang Operation Blessing ng sapatos sa kanila dahil may donasyon ang Skechers, sobrang tuwa ng mga estudyante (The students do not have any more shoes left to use. Yolanda washed away everything that they had from their homes, clothes, school supplies, and their shoes. So, when I told them that Operation Blessing will be giving them shoes coming from the donation of Skechers, the students were so happy),” Mrs. Buena said.
She added that the new slip-ons meant a lot to the students, especially since most of them now come to school in tattered shoes and slippers, while some even go to school barefoot.
Mrs. Buena added that the new pairs of slip-ons signified new hope for the students and a validation that help will continue to come and that better days are bound to come.
She also thanked Operation Blessing for the simultaneous feeding programs being conducted in the different schools of the district which have motivated more students to regularly attend their classes.