Wesleyan Kicks Make a Difference Every Step of the Way

Shawn Tomes ’94 had an idea. A former high school teacher and guidance counselor, he knew some K-12 students had inadequate footwear; some wore sandals and flip flops in cold weather, others wore heavy boots in warm weather, and many had holes in shoes that did not fit. He wanted to tackle the issue and took the idea to student Campus Ministries leaders, who said, “Yes, let’s do it.”

With that enthusiastic “yes,” Wesleyan Kicks, a ministry to provide shoes to students in need, was created. Since then, over 1,200 pairs of shoes have been distributed to young people in every school in the city and county, to local shelters and non-profit organizations. The ministry works with Family Resource Centers and Youth Services Centers, who assess needs and coordinate on-site distribution.

Fifty-two pairs of new athletic shoes were delivered during the fall semester, and a minimum of 100 more will be provided before the school year ends in May.

Wesleyan Kicks began with the on-campus collection of shoes but are no longer necessary. Three generous grants from the Ray & Kay Eckstein Charitable Trust in Paducah, Ky., were game changers for the ministry project, according to Tomes. Through collaboration with locally owned Shoe Stop in Wesleyan Park Plaza, the ministry receives discounts, and the program also accepts donations from KWC alumni and friends to purchase shoes.

“These partnerships make the ministry work, and we are grateful,” remarked Tomes. “Proper footwear is essential to good health, self-image and self-confidence, and Wesleyan Kicks is making a difference. It is a great way to serve and invest in our community.”