This month marks the 21st year that First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica organizes the Solemates program to provide new shoes for local children whose parents would otherwise not be able to afford them.
Jim Jenkins of First Presbyterian Church started Solemates in response to an unmet need he perceived in the community. If students cannot afford to buy shoes, they can be denied the right to enter school. This is a problem that is not often publicized, but no child should be turned away from enrolling in school because of inadequate footwear. Every fall since 1988, Solemates has taken Head Start kids on a shopping trip for a pair of new socks and shoes so they can start the school year with the shoes they need.
“The Solemates program buys shoes for at least 20 children and this year we hope to expand the number to 25 children if enough sponsors can be found in time,” said Mr. Jenkins, who still organizes the event each year.
The program helps children in a variety of circumstances. Some families are barely hanging on while others are truly destitute. “Shelia is a divorced mother of three and had been struggling to make ends meet. She is disabled and is receiving SSI and welfare in the amount of $884 per month. Since her rent is $575 and her utilities average $125 per month, there is almost nothing left for extras such as a new pair of shoes for her children to go to school. Shelia and her family are only one of the many requests for help that come to our office,” said Rosie Clark, administrator of One Voice’s Family Services which works with Head Start agencies to help keep needy families afloat. “I just received three referrals from families who had absolutely nothing! They needed everything because they had been living in shelters for a long time. Thanks to First Pres they now have shoes for their children.”
In addition, there will be a pizza party for the children.
There’s no better way to be good stewards of our resources and talents than to assist others who are in need today. To sponsor a child or make a donation, please contact First Presbyterian Church, 1220 2nd St., Santa Monica 310.451.1303.