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Put On Your Happy Feet

Twelve years old. Hormones raging. Personality invaded by aliens. Livid with the universe for giving me gangly feet. And, Nike was all I wanted to slip on those feet that year: canvas shoes, white, light blue swoosh. Everybody had that shoe, and at twelve, I wanted to be like them.

I’m not really sure, but I think my Mom struggled to outfit me in the latest crazes. Izod gators on a couple of shirts. Aigner A on my purse and belt. Levi on my rear end. And, of course, the light blue Nike swoosh. The world would crumble if I didn’t have the swoosh. Like most pubescent junior high schoolers, I didn’t care whether my parents could put food on the table or pay the electric bill, or God forbid, indulge in something special for themselves.

I pouted and begged and nagged and tantrum-ed my way to the swooshie blue pair of my dreams. And, of course, I tired of them as soon as everyone decided something else was cool. I never worried about whether or not I had shoes. My parents always provided.


These days, parents struggle more than ever. Layoffs and pay cuts and hiring freezes and Tough Economic Times add up to more needy people, families that might look fine on the surface. But, they’re anything but fine underneath.

I spent Saturday morning with some of those families, helping needy kids select a pair of shoes for school through Rotary Happy Feet. Each child arrived at Target with an admission ticket issued by their school. Rotary volunteers measured their feet and were aghast to find some kids wearing shoes up to two sizes too small. Armed with the right measurements, volunteer shoppers helped kids select one pair of school-appropriate footwear. Another team carried them to checkout.

Rotary International picked up the tab for all of it. Almost $4,000 in shoes for 200 children. Their feet were supposed to be happy, but the smiles on the faces of children and parents alike – THAT’S what made me tickled to give up my Saturday morning.

I wonder. Would I have been as gracious when I was a spoiled pre-teen, standing in their shoes?

Too Much is Just Enough: Giving Back


22 Comments Post a comment
  1. Amen!! A wonderful morning and a good time was had by all. I actually had one of the grandmothers take me aside and not only thank us for what we did, but, wanted to know if she could make a donation. Wow, what a kind gesture from her, of course, I told her that we really appreciated her offer, but, that we were delighted to do this and the money was already taken care of.

    We all have our “I wanna, I wanna” tantrum moments”, but, giving to others who need the help always makes me feel so good about Rotary and all that we do. Thanks so much for sharing this story with your 99 gazillion followers.

    October 2, 2011
    • It is one of many incredible Rotary programs. I wouldn’t miss it. You are the Grand Poobah for organizing it every year.

      October 2, 2011
  2. What a great way to spend a Saturday!

    I remember wanting a pair of Pro Keds as a child. Not sure who my mother got them, but she did.

    October 2, 2011
    • I remember when Pro Keds were popular. I think I had a pair of them, too.

      October 2, 2011
      • In my school, if you didn’t have Pro Keds or Converse, you’d get mocked and your feet stepped on. I wore my fair share of hand me downs, and it was tough.

        October 2, 2011
      • Kids can really be so mean. I guess some adults can be, too.

        October 2, 2011
  3. And bit by bit, each of us can and does help make this a better world. Thank-you Rotary members who made this happen.

    October 2, 2011
    • Thank you for that cite, Cheryl. I love it.

      October 2, 2011
      • Me, too. IMHO is one of the most important other than the Golden Rule.

        October 2, 2011
  4. Most youngsters in the past had little awareness of how their parents may have struggled to provide; to keep food on the table, to keep the heat pumping, to keep shoes on their feet. They may have ‘known’ but parents discussed finances behind closed doors and, thus, such knowledge wasn’t paramount in kids’ lives. As teens, albeit at different times, you and I likely fell into this category.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s as true today, as the economy falters and more and more folks join the ranks of the under/unemployed. Thank God there are programs such as Rotary’s Happy Feet to help ease a bit of the worry for some of those families.

    October 2, 2011
    • I definitely fell into this category. Still do. I do my parents’ taxes every year but have no idea where anything is if something happened to both of them at the same time. I did manage to keep the paperwork one year. :)

      October 2, 2011
      • I have made the assumption that you are an only child (but I don’t know why I think that). If that’s the case, you might want to sit down with your parents before it becomes an issue and ask that they put instructions for matters “in the event of” into a sealed envelope for future reference. It’s much easier if/when the time comes to at least have a starting point. If you do have siblings, maybe another has such instructions in hand?

        None of us likes to dwell on such topics, but it’s a thought to consider. Dealing with so many issues (particularly where emotions are likely to be stretched taut) is simpler if there’s been advance planning and someone has a ‘road map’ in hand. :)

        October 2, 2011
      • I have some basic info. It is hard to talk about, but necessary, I know.

        In my family, one can still attend some family functions and listen to arguments about who got what over 40 years ago. It does make bringing up that topic not for the faint of heart. :)

        October 2, 2011
  5. Words cannot describe how wonderful this act of paying forward has been. I hope that this huge act of generosity by the Rotarians will not soon be forgotten. I also hope that one day these teens will remember to replicate the generosity in the future.

    October 2, 2011
    • You’d be welcome to come out and work the event next year, James. I am sure you know a couple of people who could arrange it. :)

      October 2, 2011
  6. My kids had shoe-shop tantrums. As a result, we all hated shoe shopping. I did my best unless it was a trumy ridiculous price in which case a compromise had to be negotiated. They only had one pair of shoes at a time though.

    ‘Rotary Happy Feet’ : What an amazing initiative.

    October 2, 2011
    • I think I had two or three pairs at a time, unlike the ——- I have today. :) I am sure Rotary exists in your part of France, but different clubs have different projects. Last year, in England, we were blown away by some of the things English Rotarians did.

      October 2, 2011
  7. That’s an amazing scheme, helping people precisely where it’s needed. It’s extremely inspiring stuff…

    October 2, 2011
    • It does feel good to give and expect nothing in return. The smiles made my day.

      October 2, 2011
  8. Awesome stuff – thanks for all you and your Rotary club to for the community.

    October 2, 2011
    • You and the Daniel Island Rotary Club do lots for the community, too, Chad. We’re all working together for the same good.

      October 2, 2011

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  1. HAPPY FEET TWO out on November 18, 2011 « cinemaic

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