'Back to School Ministry' hands out nearly 5,000 pairs of shoes to students

Updated: Sep. 4, 2017 at 11:32 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Several Richmond area churches are teaming up to help students start the school year off on the right foot.

The "New Shoes Back to School Ministry," now in its 12th year, is handing out nearly 5,000 pairs of shoes to students in grades kindergarten through 12.

Families lined up early Monday morning waiting for the doors to open at Third Street Bethel A.M.E. Church, and New Deliverance Evangelistic Church, so kids could pick out some new kicks.

"The kids walk in, and it was like Christmas morning. They go "ooh," and they get to go to the table and pick out their own pair of shoes. The tears in the grandmother's eyes are like, 'I didn't know what I was going to do to outfit my grandchildren with shoes,' " said director Rita Willis

The footwear was donated by church goers and Saxon shoes.

The program began in 2006, handing out 712 pairs of shoes. This year, the ministry has ballooned, and it partnering with 13 churches and Temple Beth-El to reach children from all backgrounds across the Richmond-Metro.

On Tuesday, all the leftover shoes will be packed up and shipped to Houston for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

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