MERCER COUNTY —
While school children begin to take their long summer vacations, it is never too early for many of us to look toward the fall start of the 2012-13 school year.
No, not because we're are anxious for the children to get back to the "readin', writin' and 'rithmetic." We need to look ahead because some of our area's boys and girls from less fortunate families will be going to school next year without proper footwear.
It's something that should never happen.
That's why The Herald's annual appeal for The Shoe Our Children program through its Good News Fund officially began last Sunday.
The economy is slowly recovering in this area, but there are still a lot of families with financial difficulties. They can barely afford to put food on the table, let alone buy new shoes for their children.
That's why some children will begin school with shoes that are too small or with more holes than Swiss cheese. That can be tough emotionally on youngsters who can become the brunt of jokes for classmates.
This year's four-month effort that runs through September should allow plenty of time for getting enough footwear for needy children.
In the last eight years, The Herald has helped to raise more than $200,000 for the program, donations that are raised because of the generosity of businesses and industries, individual residents and charitable organizations.
Raising money this year is more important because agencies that rely on the United Way of Mercer County received less funding because the UWMC fell short of its goal.
The late James E. Winner Jr., former chairman of Winner International in Sharon, started the Shoe Our Children program 13 years ago. He pointed out that as a boy, he rarely had a good pair of shoes to attend school.
Beginning in May 2004, The Herald assumed the responsibility of raising funds for the program. With the cooperation and support of Karen Winner-Sed, who succeeded her father at Winner International, the fund has helped to provide thousands of pairs of shoes to children in Mercer County school districts and in Brookfield.
Shoes are delivered at the beginning of the school year, when employees from Winner International sacrifice some of their lunch hours to help the effort.
Organizers of the program never know who is getting the shoes - they receive orders for certain sizes and ages. The distribution of shoes continues throughout the school year as application forms are sent to schools and distributed to parents.
The program has the resources to fill a child's need immediately because shoes are stockpiled in the Winner International warehouses in Sharon. Karen and her assistants broker deals with shoe companies throughout the country.
In addition, the Jubelirer family, owner of Reyers Shoe Store in Sharon, has been a faithful supporter and has donated nearly 7,000 pairs of shoes to the program.
The Herald will follow the same fundraising effort for its Shoe Our Children program that has enabled the Good News Fund's food appeal to grow every year for 18 years.
Individuals, businesses and organizations wanting to make a tax-free contribution should make their checks payable to The Good News Fund/Shoe Our Children and mail them to Nancy Ash, in care of The Herald, Box 51, Sharon 16146. Contributions can be dropped off at The Herald office, 52 S. Dock St., Sharon, or at the Allied News office, Erie Street, Grove City.
The fund offers residents the option of making a donation in the name of a friend or family member. The names of donors will be published in The Herald periodically throughout the appeal, and a complete list of donors will be printed at the end of the campaign.
Being a member of the Community Foundation of Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania (Shenango Valley Foundation) not only gives The Good News Fund tax-exempt status, it assures donors of strict accountability and conformity to Internal Revenue Service regulations.
Published June 13, 2012, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.