TEMPE, Ariz. - A Tempe school teacher started a shoe donation effort, after noticing some students in her district were not wearing the appropriate sneakers for their cross-country meets.
For a group of students with Gililland Middle School, running is a hobby they enjoy.
"They run anywhere between one to two-and-a-half miles at practice every week, and they love it," said Gililland Middle School cross-country coach Jessica Peña. "They go out there and they try their best."
The students try their best, even when they may not have the best.
"Some of them were running in Crocs or Vans with holes," said one person, identified only as Nicole.
Kathleen Burd, a teacher at McKemy Academy, was volunteering at a Tempe Elementary cross-country meet and cheering the students when she noticed some runners from Gililland did not have the proper running gear.
After seeing that, Burd decided that she wants to do something about it.
"I contacted the Athletic Director and I asked him what I can do, and I said I want to get shoes for these kids," said Burd. "Then I contacted friends and family, and I said our community needs our help. Let's do this. Let's get together and make it happen."
Community steps up to help
A week after the season started, Burd was sent a list of the genders and shoe sizes.
"I started with a small group of friends, and within 24 hours, I had people commit to either donating money so I can purchase the shoes, or committing to go shopping to purchase the shoes," said Burd.
One of those people who was committed to help was Marsha Spencer.
"I was a school psychologist, and I worked at Tempe Elementary for a number of years, and so, I do feel a special connection to our Tempe students, and I was really happy to support them," said Spencer.
With the help of Burd, Spencer and others, 27 sneakers were donated to the group of kids.
"We really appreciate this donation because they are able to run in quality gear like they deserve," said Peña.
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