The sound of tiny feet stomping against the ground was heard Thursday morning as dozens of students from Rolla Head Start each received a gift; a box of new shoes. For many of these students, this gift was one they wouldn’t have received otherwise. Each box of shoes was given with love from the Shoes from the Heart organization.

Kathleen Wilson, site director for Rolla Head Start, said “they [the students] were all very excited to get their shoes.” She added many of her own students were “heartfull” and thankful for the gift they just received.
“It’s exciting to see their faces, because they were so joyful, and thankful that they actually got a new pair of shoes,” said Wilson. “It’s exciting to see that and to know they’re thoughtful on getting that. It’s not something [they’re throwing aside.”

The students gathered in a side room, wearing their new shoes and holding the boxes in their laps, occasionally breaking into a chorus of drum rolls. They placed their shoes around two hearts with handwritten thanks to Shoes from the Heart for their generous, and well-treasured gift.

Shoes from the Heart was established in 2012 by a woman named Cindy Bonuchi, according to a letter sent to Head Start staff. The idea for the charity began in a Sunday School class while discussing the idea of what people can do for their community with no questions asked. According to the letter, Bonuchi’s vision was to help children in need by providing new tennis shoes.

In their first year of operation, with the help of two Sunday School Classes, Shoes from the Heart was able to raise funds to purchase shoes for 525 children. The organization has grown since that first year, reaching every county in Missouri, eastern Kansas, Southern Iowa and Western Illinois, according to the letter.

Shoes from the Heart is a 501(c)3 organization with a twelve-member board of directors with the mission of helping children who need the assistance. There is no other qualification, according to them.