Annual “Shoes for Kids” Event

On Friday, October 20th, Share the Spirit Foundation hosted its annual “Shoes for Kids” event at J&N shoes.   Approximately 350 local children, ages 2-18 were able to select a new pair of shoes as part of the event.   Schools participating in this year’s event include all Lamar preschools and grade schools, as well as the middle and high schools.  Other local schools participating include Springfield, Holly, Granada, Wiley, McClave and Eads.   2023 marks the 20th anniversary of  Share the Spirit Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose sole (no pun intended) purpose is to provide new shoes for children, having provided 20,000 pairs of shoes and new socks in their 20 years!

Karen Voepel, co-founder of the Foundation (far right in photo above), told The Prowers Journal that the yearly shoe event here in Lamar would not be possible without the large and hard-working group of volunteers.  She mentioned that Chana Reed, the local school coordinator for this event is “invaluable” and that the event would also not be possible without the tremendous generosity and help from Jennifer Steward of J&N Shoes.  Karen said that “sometimes just getting a spontaneous hug from a child receiving new shoes” made it all worth it and that during events, lots of happy tears are shed by more than a few people.

Also adding to the money raised locally for the event, the “Cornhole 4 Kicks” contest on Aug 19 raised an incredible $6,000 for the Foundation.  The cornhole tournament was made possible by the hard work of Crystal Richards, Jessica Page and Judy Turpin, as well as the many generous local sponsors.

Share the Spirit Foundation was born from an idea that co-founders Karen Voepel and her sister-in-law Tonya Voepel had while participating in a 3-day,  60-mile walk raising money and awareness for breast cancer,  for which they were able to raise $5,000.  They received tremendous support, motivation and spirit from friends and family during their walk and felt that starting a non-profit organization whose purpose was to provide shoes for children in need was a good “fit”  The following year, in 2003, Share the Spirit was officially launched.  They began to coordinate with schools and community agencies, then gathered volunteers of all ages to participate.  Share the Spirit began gathering funds by holding fund raisers like cooking parties, and restaurant tastes, along with home brew and wine-tasting parties that eventually became their signature fundraiser they call “Sip and Savor”.

The Foundation holds its largest local fundraiser every other year, with the next big event scheduled for April 27, 2024 at Amache Studio in Lamar.  Money raised from the 2022 event enabled this year’s Shoes for Kids event to be the largest ever.  For more information about Share the Spirit Foundation go to

By Barbara Crimond

Filed Under: Consumer IssuesFeatured


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