Kids in need receive new shoes, thanks to Shoes for Sac, City of Refuge, RT and the Department of Community Response

More than 90 kids who recently experienced homelessness have new pairs of shoes thanks to a partnership that included Shoes for Sac, Sacramento Regional Transit and the City of Sacramento’s Department of Community Response.

As part of the partnership, the parents of these children all received new pajamas as well. The families are living in a motel overseen by the City of Refuge, a non-profit organization that is contracted by the City of Sacramento to help operate its motel-voucher program.

DCR staff with a young person who received a new pair of shoes.

City of Refuge was contacted by Shoes For Sac, which provides shoes to the local unhoused community. A person affiliated with the organization recently ran the California International Marathon barefoot to raise money and increase awareness about the difficulties people experiencing homelessness face. From this effort, Shoes For Sac contributed $5,000 to the City of Refuge so the kids at the motel could get new shoes.

“The shoes contributed by Shoes For Sac was such a beautiful gift for families,” said Rachelle Ditmore, co-founder of City of Refuge. “It was wonderful to see the light in these children’s eyes as they looked around knowing they could pick anything they wanted. As a community, we believe in the best for people. Serving is an honor, and we work to serve in a way that brings dignity and adds hope to narratives where hope has been lost. Mother Theresa said it best: ‘We can’t do big things but small things with great love.’ The shoe give-away was just that, a demonstration of many partners coming together to show one thing this holiday season — love.”

Family members stand with a photo of Regional Transit driver “Good News Tony.”

Sacramento Regional Transit provided transportation to a local shoe store, and that created another avenue for good will from this project. The store is along the route that an RT driver named Tony Westbrooks drove for years. The driver was known as “Good News Tony” because of his perpetually sunny disposition. Unfortunately, he passed away suddenly several weeks ago. The shoe give-away event was conducted in his memory.

“He would have loved this,” said Dr. Geneva White, Tony’s daughter. “He would be helping kids pick out their shoes, grinning from ear to ear, cracking jokes and trying to get people to laugh. That’s who he was.”

DCR and Harvest Church contributed funds to buy 120 pairs of pajamas for the parents. DCR staff helped coordinate the transportation between the motel and the shoe store, and they also helped some of the kids pick out their shoes.

“Every day DCR staff is out working to try and help people when we don’t always have the right resources,” said DCR Director, Bridgette Dean. “It’s really great to interact with people, and especially kids, who we have been able to help, and who are progressing towards stability. It helps recharge our batteries.”

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