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Citrus Heights nonprofit seeking donations to provide students with shoes

Mariposa Elementary School Principal Leslee Cottrell, left, Linda Fischer, Jackie Rittenhouse and Ruth Fox hold shoes and socks in the school’s shoe closet. // Thomas Sullivan

By Rylie Friesen–
Soles for Young Souls, a local nonprofit formed in 2019, is actively seeking donations to ensure shoes are provided for students in need at Mariposa Avenue Elementary in Citrus Heights.

Linda Fischer, president of the nonprofit’s Board of Directors, said the shoe closet is currently located in the school’s office at 7940 Mariposa Ave., where donations can be dropped off during school hours, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. She said donations of new shoes and socks are accepted, as well as cash, checks, and gift cards, in order to purchase more items. Children can also pick up shoes from the closet.

“From toddler sizes to adult sizes, there are 44 different sizes,” Fischer said. “Kids outgrow or wear out their shoes several times a year, so it’s an ongoing need.”

Mariposa Avenue Elementary serves students in preschool through fifth grade, and over 80 percent of its students have been signed up for government aid and even more qualify, according to Fischer. She said many of the students were seen wearing too-tight or worn-out shoes and it appeared likely that their families couldn’t afford new ones.

“Life isn’t fair and we know that, but if we can make it more fair, then I think we should try,” she said.

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Fischer, a Citrus Heights native who currently works at the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, helped found the “Soles for Young Souls” organization after discovering the need for shoes from the school’s principal, Leslee Cottrell.

Fischer said students were asked to take a shoe survey that helped teachers to see which students were in need of shoes. It asked if the child’s shoes were too tight, too large, falling apart, or too stinky, for example. From these answers Fischer said it becomes known who needs a new pair of shoes.

An upcoming distribution is planned for April 19, and Fischer hopes to have distributions 2-3 times a year: before school starts, in the middle of the year, and towards the end of the year to have shoes in the summer.

School closures due to COVID-19 hampered some of the nonprofit’s plans, with Fischer calling it “devastating.”

“With the kids not being in school meant we couldn’t do school distributions,” she said.

However, in December, in conjunction with the school cafeteria handing out food, a shoe distribution was advertised and Fischer said 85 pairs of shoes were handed out.

The Soles for Young Souls shoe closet received its official nonprofit status in March 2019, with Fischer serving as president and Jackie Rittenhouse and Ruth Fox serving alongside her.

The organization says all donations go entirely to purchasing new shoes and socks; and none of it is used for printing, shelving, government filing fees, or supplies.

For more on how this local nonprofit started, see The Sentinel’s prior story: This new nonprofit is helping in-need students get shoes in Citrus Heights

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