Shoes are warming more than feet, they're warming hearts - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Shoes are warming more than feet, they're warming hearts

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)-St. Bernard's Auditorium was filled with shoes on Tuesday.

"Warm Hearts, Warm Souls" was a collaborative fundraiser between HMG and 103.9 The Game to gather as many shoes as possible for children in need.

Host with 103.9 The Game, Mickey Ryan, is responsible for coming up with the idea.

Ryan says the entire event sprang from a trip he made to the Salvation Army.

"The idea for 'Warm Hearts, Warm Souls' was inspired from an experience I had here in Jonesboro," Ryan says.  "I was driving down the street, actually taking some things to the Salvation Army, and I saw a young man who was playing in front of their store, there, and I noticed the young man's feet were hanging over the backs of his shoes. It was about twenty-five degrees that morning and the young man didn't have adequate shoes."

When Ryan saw this, he says he knew he had to do something.

"I didn't have any shoes with me and I wanted to help the young man. Of course, I didn't want to alarm him or seem like someone who was trying to hurt him. So, I though really quickly and I thought maybe I could drive back to my home and get some of my own shoes and bring them back. I did do that.  But when I came back, I couldn't find the young man. I took the bag of stuff I did have and left it with the Salvation Army. I described the young man and said if you see him again, will you make sure he gets these."

Ryan may not have helped the young man he intended, but he is helping lots of others.

"Through the course of that experience, I thought this can't be the only child who doesn't have a pair of shoes. If I can just do something to help those young people, especially when it's so cold. To know they don't have adequate footwear, I had to figure out something and this idea was born out of that."

And what a response Region 8 residents made.

Ryan says when they arrived at St. Bernard's Auditorium to get started, piles of shoes were already there and waiting.

"We haven't even started yet," he said.  "And we've got already probably one hundred shoes. We just couldn't believe it."

Ryan says while he's proud to be a part of this event, it's the donors who should feel good.

"Anytime, anytime you can help a child, it's a great feeling. And I just happened to be the guy on the radio with some time to talk about it. The people who are really helping are the people who are buying shoes, bringing shoes.  They're the people who should smile tonight when they go to bed knowing they've helped a child in need."

In order to make sure that kids throughout the area get what they need, The Game decided to partner with the YMCA in Jonesboro.

"We've partnered up with the YMCA in Jonesboro to make sure kids in need get them. We've already identified about eighty children who need shoes immediately. Once those needs are met, we will continue to work with various schools around Northeast Arkansas through contacts the YMCA has and we have to make sure that other children who need these shoes get them."

The event's hours are from three to eight in the evening.

Ryan says they wanted to give those getting off work time to come by and make a donation.

But things won't stop with this event.

Ryan says anyone who would like to donate can drop shoes off at 103.9 The Game.

They'll take shoes anytime and make sure a kid who needs them, gets them.

They also have plans to make, "Warm Hearts, Warm Souls" an annual event.

For more information about either of these programs, you can log onto their website.

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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