Lashmeet-Matoaka students receive new shoes - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Lashmeet-Matoaka students receive new shoes

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PRINCETON - Eight members of a South Carolina church played Santa Claus at Lashmeet/Matoaka School today.  The gifts they brought extended half the length of the school gymnasium – plastic tubs filled with over 300 pairs of new tennis shoes and 300 pairs of socks.  

Beginning at 8:30 a.m., classrooms of children, starting with the youngest, came to the gym to be fitted for a new pair of shoes. Although the school's staff had provided sizes in advance, the delegation made sure to have enough larger shoes to accommodate fast-growing feet.

Working with a program called "Laces for Love," Andrea Minolfo, of North Augusta First Baptist Church, headed up the mission. The South Carolinian was familiar with the Matoaka area, having previously assisted Pastor Mayhew West and his wife, directors of Shepherd's Hands, a ministry that provides donated clothing, shoes, and furniture to those who need it.

"While I was there, a friend and I helped deliver supplies, and we were deeply affected by what we saw," Minolfo said.  "The people were so grateful for items that others might turn up their noses at.  It broke my heart."

Back in South Carolina, Minolfo –already involved in her church's "Laces for Love" mission of providing 3,000 pairs of shoes for local youngsters—asked her 50-member Sunday School class to purchase another 300 pairs for the children at Lashmeet/Matoaka School.   Minolfo had contacted Principal Dina Smith to see how many shoes would be needed.

Principal Smith said she was glad to be given options.  "The group said they would purchase shoes for all of the students or for only the students who needed them," Smith said.  "Knowing the dignity of my parents and students, and not wanting to embarrass anyone, we opted to go with the whole school." 

Pastor West delivered the shoes to the school this morning, the cargo filling up the entire trailer he was pulling.  Fifth-grade students helped unload the boxes.

Minolfo was joined by others on her mission to West Virginia.  Fellow church-members Roseanne Price, Debbie Vaughn, and Sandy Myers held children's feet on their knees as they fitted them with sneakers of all colors.  They were ably assisted PTO President, Vickie Settles, and by several young elves – Dominick Terlizzi, Bella Minolfo, and Sara Beth Vaughn -- all of North Augusta, South Carolina.

Lashmeet/Matoaka teacher Emily Hodovan was excited to see that socks were part of the gift.  One of her kindergarten students, she said, had not worn a pair of socks to school all year.

Once fitted, the kids wore their shoes for the rest of the day, bagging up their other shoes to take home.  "I like this pair," one youngster exclaimed, showing off his new shoes, "I don't want my other ones.  They were slow-runners."

Principal Dina Smith warmly thanked the group, explaining that many parents may have trouble keeping rapidly-growing youngsters in shoes.  "It is such a blessing that you were able to do this for the children at Lashmeet/Matoaka," she said. 

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