- October 18, 2021
A shoe drive event July 21 to benefit foster children showed the power of not just one community organization, but two, to make a difference.
The nonprofit boutique The Twig, which benefits foster kids, held its second annual sneaker drive fueled by 264 pairs of sneakers provided by The Lake Club Women's Giving Circle.
"There are over 1,000 kids in foster care in Sarasota and Manatee counties," said Julie Swan, who managed The Lake Club Women's Giving Circle show drive, a new initiative for the group. "If we can help put a smile on their face and they feel good about themselves on their first day of school, we've accomplished something."
"(Shoes) sometimes are the biggest statement (the kids) can make in an outfit," said Lindsey May, a program coordinator at The Twig. "They see a pair of Converse or Air Jordans, and they put those on and almost float out of the store because they are so excited."
She said a fundraising drive for shoes has occurred on a yearly basis at The Twig, which was founded in Venice in 2016. When the Bradenton location opened in 2021, she wanted to ensure it was offering the same program, something that was particularly important for the school-aged children who benefit from the store.
Swan previously had collected sneakers herself for the drive and this year went to The Lake Club Women's Giving Circle for help.
She said the inventory of shoes collected this year was based on an Amazon.com wish list established by The Twig. Participants simply needed to click on links to make Amazon purchases, rather than physically making shopping trips, though she said there was an option for participants to do so and drop the shoes off at her house.
Throughout the fundraising drive, Swan said, she had been constantly in communication with The Twig to explain what items were being obtained from the list, and how The Twig needed to modify the list.
“I just think it's a good group of women who are always willing to pitch in,” said Giving Circle member Lori Miller. “They find a need, and everybody just kind of goes for it."
Susie Bowie, the executive director of Manatee Community Foundation, which is affiliated with the Women's Giving Circle, was impressed with the effort.
“It’s incredible what women can accomplish when they come together,” she said. “I can only imagine the looks on the faces of these children when they come in and see the variety of shoes they have to choose from.”
Katelyn Egolf, an event coordinator at The Twig, agreed shoes were seen as extremely important by the children.
“These new sneakers make these kids feel like they are just as good and just as worthy and just as cool as every other kid that's walking into school that first day. It's hard to explain how big a deal shoes are to these kids.”
May called the store “the community at its best.”
She said it has four full-time and three part-time staff members but that the 175 volunteers that handle the stores are “really what makes the organization tick.”
She estimated 300 children a month benefit from the store, which allows them seven items of clothing.
“It gives us the kids a chance to come in and shop with no strings attached," May said. "They get to get the things that they want, and the things they need.”