Can you remember your first day of school in a pair of new shoes?
The Kids to Love Foundation, in partnership with the Alabama Adoptive and Foster Parent Association and Soles4Souls, will help every foster child in the state of Alabama experience that feeling.
Kids to Love collected more than 16,000 pairs of shoes during its Heart & Sole shoe drive in April. On May 1st, Kids to Love drove the shoes to Montgomery and placed 6,029 pairs on the steps of the state capitol building. Each pair represented an Alabama child in foster care. The rally was a wake-up call to kick off National Foster Care Awareness Month.
Kids to Love founder Lee Marshall delivered a startling statistic during the rally:
Lawmakers in Alabama make $134.25 a day.
It cost $35.98 to house a prisoner in Alabama a day.
Foster children in our state receive $8.00-$14.00 a day.
Lee has shared previously in a special report on WAFF 48 News that 75%-80% of people in the juvenile justice and prison system are former foster children.
"Either we invest in the lives of these children today, or we pay for them tomorrow," Marshall says.
Linda Williams with the AFAPA organized the rally. She challenged those in attendance "To put our children first!"
The Montgomery rally wasn't the end of the road for all those shoes.
Paul Wilson, a foster parent of 10, donated 18,000 brand new pair of shoes on behalf of Soles4Souls. Soles4Soles will recycle the used shoes collected through the Heart & Sole drive at its plant in Roanoke, Alabama. Some of those shoes will stay in the state; others will be sent to children around the world, many of whom live in orphanages.