Many would probably agree that it's amazing how a little thing, such as a pair of shoes, can make a huge impact in someone's life.
What began as a sales contest between district stores has become the donation of more than 700 pairs of shoes for Nebraska City Public Schools elementary students and Southeast Nebraska Community Action Partnership Head Start children.
"I feel like it's an honor and it's a way to give back to the community," said VF Outlet store manager Jennifer Morales about the clothing store winning the contest. "I feel it's a huge win for us and it's a way for us to show that we care."
On Saturday, over 700 BOBS footwear from SKECHERS were given to Northside and Hayward elementary schools and SENCA Head Start students at the Northside cafeteria.
"We're really excited to be coming to Nebraska. We've never done a donation there before," SKECHERS Public Relations manager Lauren Dutko of Manhattan, Calif., said. "VF is a strong retail partner with our wholesale business with BOBS. We're excited to be partnering with them for the donation of the event."
Dutko said VF Outlet stores nationwide competed in a sales contest in April. The district that had sold the most BOBS won the contest to have BOBS footwear donated from Skechers delivered to children in need in its community.
Morales said Midwest District 1 was the winner of the contest. Nebraska City's VF Outlet store, in the Factory Stores of America shopping mall, and two other VF stores - one in Union City, Tenn., and one in Batesville, Miss., - were competing against each other for the donation.
Morales contacted SENCA and the NCPS District to gather information about children in need in the area.
"I went to battle for us," Morales said while laughing.
She said 12 VF Outlet managers voted for the winning store and declared Nebraska City as the donation destination.
"I was very happy about it," Morales said. "It was an extreme honor."
Dutko said Skechers works with charities around the world to donate shoes to pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade children in need. Kids In Distressed Situations/Fashion Delivers Inc. of New York helps Skechers find charitable organizations to donate the shoes to and K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers also transports and distributes the to the donation destinations. K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers selected SENCA as the charitable organization that Skechers could work with.
Dutko said Skechers has donated 9 million pairs of shoes since this program was launched in 2011.
K.I.D.S. was founded in 1985 by children's industry executives and Fashion Delivers was created in 2005 by adult apparel and home fashions professionals. The two organizations merged this year. Its mission is to unite retailers, manufacturers, foundations and individuals to provide people impacted by tragedy and property with new merchandise through a network of agency partners to improve the well-being, dignity and self-esteem of at-risk families and individuals.
For every pair of men's, women's and children's BOBS footwear that is sold Skechers donates shoes to children in need worldwide. The BOBS program was created by Skechers in 2010.
SENCA's Outreach Office family development specialist Desaray Johnson worked with the NCPS District to find students that receive free and reduced lunches. SENCA is a non-profit organization in Nebraska City who's main goal is to help low-income individuals become more self-sufficient.
NCPS Superintendent Jeffrey Edwards was contacted in June by Johnson and Lara Diab of Skechers Public Relations department. Edwards is grateful for Skechers' donation.
"Any time that we can provide shoes, clothing or backpacks to our students, it's a great help. The students really appreciate it," he said. "We're happy to be able to do this for our students. It's great working with different community partners to make this possible."
Hayward Elementary School principal Scot Davis said he will never argue with any organization donating items to benefit students.
"I think it's a great opportunity for families who need it for their kids," Davis said.
Northside Elementary School principal Tony Little agrees with Davis.
"I think it's a great opportunity. I'm always happy when we can get students things that they need. I want to thank VF for spearheading this," Little said. "It's going to benefit kids who can use that extra pair of shoes."
"The school district was really fun to work with," Morales said. "They were really excited about the contest."
The school district invited qualifying students and families to the donation event.
Once children received a new pair of shoes, they could then decorate them at the Northside cafeteria. Lunch and snacks were also provided for children and their families.
Morales said Friday morning that four other VF store managers from Union, Lebanon, Mo., Branson, Mo., and Kansas City, Mo., and also store associates from Nebraska City were going to help at the shoe donation Saturday.
Dutko, who flew in Friday for the shoe donation, said Skechers encouraged VF employees to help at the donation.
"It's a way to get stores excited about it and to have the stores and it's employees be a part of the event," she said, "so that they can see the program in action. It allows the employees to get involved. It gives you a different perspective when you're with the kids."
Morales said her associates were thrilled to help out area children.
"All of my associates are really excited to work with children, to decorate shoes with children and they're excited to help put smiles on kids' faces," she said Friday morning. "VF is really big about being community-oriented and giving back to community members. I would say out of every company that I've worked for VF is the most community-focused company that I've every worked for."