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Students get free shoes before the start of school

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Before returning to school Tuesday, hundreds of students received free shoes during an event Monday at the Second Baptist Church in South Richmond.

“Tuesday morning, they're  going to school and they're  going to just really excited because they're going to have a new pair of shoes to wear to school,” said Valencia Malone-Bagwell, who has volunteered at “New Shoes for Back to School” for 5 years.

The program is aimed at making sure families in need have the means to provide kids with fresh kicks for school.  From 8:00 a.m. until sizes ran out Monday, volunteers handed out sneakers, boots and dress shoes.

“It's a breath of fresh air just to know that the community has something like this to give you the extra help you might need during the school season,” said Dionne Lee, who came to "New Shoes for Back to School" for the first time.

Churches and businesses throughout Richmond donated new shoes and cash to lift the burden off parents who might need a hand this time of year.

Volunteers passed out about 3,500 pairs of shoes Monday. 

“There were people here sleeping at 8:00 last night,” said Dorryce Rudd, Associate Pastor at Branch's Baptist Church.  “We've had the parking lot so full, we've had to send them to the next church to park.”

This is the sixth year for "New Shoes for Back to School Program," and in that time, they have passed out 20,912 pairs of shoes.

“It meets the heart needs of a lot people those who give as well as those who receive,” said Rudd.

“And that's what we should be striving to do every single day, be a blessing to someone else,” said Malone-Bagwell.

Sometimes that only takes a small step.