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Backpack campaign brings shoes, smiles

The local nonprofit organization Shoes That Fit recently concluded its Backpack Campaign, a community wide effort that yielded 250 backpacks—each filled with a pair of brand-new athletic shoes, socks and school supplies—for kids in need.

These precious parcels, intended to help youngsters get off on the right foot for the school year, were distributed to children in the Claremont, Upland, Montclair, Ontario and Fontana school districts.

Roni Lomeli, executive director of Shoes That Fit, emphasizes the collaborative nature of the annual event, which takes place over 3 weekends in July.  She gives special kudos to Susan Pearson, owner of The Bath Workshop, who has coordinated the Backpack Campaign for the past 4 years.

Each year, Ms. Pearson is presented with 250 backpacks, each accompanied with a student’s pertinent information, such as their shoe and sock sizes and suggestions for grade-appropriate school supplies. The backpacks are then distributed to participating businesses in the Claremont Village, merchants like Some Crust bakery and Stamp Your Heart Out.

One shop might get anywhere from 5 to 10 empty backpacks, while another might take as many as 20-25. The employees then encourage their customers to pick up the backpacks and fill them. Once the backpacks are laden with shoes, socks and other back-to-school treasures, they are returned to The Bath Workshop. Ms. Pearson and her crew, employees like Amy Long and Elizabeth Sanchez, then check each backpack making sure they contain everything they are supposed to and that the shoes do, indeed, fit.

The backpacks, which are staged in The Bath Workshop’s party room, are next transported back to the Shoes That Fit headquarters in the Claremont Business Park. Shoes That Fit staffers separate the backpacks by schools in preparation for pick-up.

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