Rotary Club Steps for Success
By Diane Andrews
The very first step for success is a new pair of shoes and socks–and a brand new book to call your own. Each October for 18 years, the Rotary Club of Santa Clara has provided new athletic shoes for children from low-income families in the Santa Clara Unified School District, enabling these children to put their best foot forward in school and at play.
"Getting shoes feels good because I know that some people don't have the chance to wear shoes," says 5th grader Stephanie, happy to receive a new pair of purple and pink athletic shoes and purple-toed socks that just happened to coordinate with her tights and top.
On October 3 and 10, children from eight elementary schools–Bowers, Bracher, Briarwood, Hughes, Montague, Pomeroy, Scott Lane and George Mayne in Alviso–came with their parents to designated distribution center schools where Rotary Club volunteers fitted them with new shoes. Walmart stores in Santa Clara and Fremont footed the bill for six hundred pairs of shoes and socks through a $2,000 grant to the Rotary Club.
"This helps kids in need to increase their self esteem and do better in school. Walmart is all about community involvement and taking care of our future generation," says Rotarian Karina Arvizu, Walmart store manager, Turlock.
"Steps for Success is about our kids in our community and making sure they have comfortable footwear so they can focus on their education," says Andrew Ratermann, president of the Rotary Club of Santa Clara, an international service club comprised of business and professional leaders and established locally in 1936.
Rotarian Lidia Blair, who has been the Steps for Success event chair for three consecutive years, says it gives her joy "to see little kids with happy faces" and that, "sometimes we see kids with ripped shoes. Last year some came without any shoes."
"It's important to let families know that organizations like Rotary are here for them to help ease their expenses, so they don't have to worry about buying shoes. We can provide them for their children. They can take advantage of all these organizations that try to do good for them," says Rotarian Lidia Blair.
The children also received books donated by the Santa Clara Library Foundation & Friends. Karen Vigil and Aishwarya Loganathan from Mission Library helped each child select an age-appropriate book.
"We want them to know that reading is cool and to help them start reading, to put them on the right path," says Vigil. "These are brand new, gorgeous books–some in Spanish."
Each child received a lightweight backpack to carry their footwear and books, a bookmark, food coupons from Pizza Party and Chick-fil-A, and a toothbrush.
Volunteers from Interact, an international high school service club sponsored by Rotary, helped out; including organizing a craft project for the children, who are now a step ahead thanks to the Rotary Club of Santa Clara (www.santaclararotary.org).