SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Dan and Gayla Wells of Springfield created One Sole Purpose last year with a mission to provide a brand new pair of shoes to the children who need it most. With classes starting up again next month, they need your help sending more kids back to school in style.
"The expression on the kids faces were just amazing," said Gayla Wells.
"You had 330 kids running around that day with a brand new pair of Converse Chucks on," said Dan Wells. "It was pretty cool to see."
In 2010 Dan and Gayla put new shoes on the feet of all the children at Weller Elementary. Together, they created One Sole Purpose.
"Sometimes I tell Gayla, 'We created a monster here,'" Dan laughed, "and, you know what, it's rewarding. You're going to fill your time with something you might as well fill it with something worthwhile."
Originally, they set out to supply all the children at Weller Elementary with shoes. Now that idea has expanded.
"This year our goal is to provide shoes for all 21 Title I schools," Gayla said, referring to schools that meet a federal definition for serving a high number of children in poverty.
Currently, One Sole Purpose has enough funds to cover about eight Title I schools. Five of those schools -- York, Robberson, Campbell, Williams, and MacGregor -- have 90 percent or more of their students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.
The school year is rapidly approaching and they have a long way to go to reach their goal of all 21 schools.
"Our goal is to raise $150,000 - $160,000," Dan said.
"We're just trying to get the word out there and let people know this is what we are doing. If you can help, help," Gayla said.
At the end of the day no matter how many schools they can get, their one sole purpose is to put a smile on the face of as many children as possible.
"This is the first time that they have put on a brand new pair of shoes, and they don't know what it feels like," said Gayla. "It's fun, so it doesn't seem like it is a lot of work."
In the beginning, High Street Baptist Church sponsored their first shoe drive to Weller. This year, they've gained some more sponsors -- including the McKesson Corporation and O'Reilly Auto Parts -- but they still need help. You can call (417) 229-3998.
They buy the shoes from Shoe Carnival, which gives them a discount on the shoes. Shoe Carnival also gives them manpower. Employees go to the schools and fit the children around Labor Day. The children then get to pick out a color, and then, about 6 weeks later, the shoes are delivered.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun