Fair draws many feet

Published 10:55 am Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Foot Health Fair brought the Buckingham community together Saturday as more than 100 young people took the opportunity to pick up a free pair of shoes and many learned more about how to take better care of their feet during the event held at the Carter G. Woodson Education Complex.

Dr. Cecil Snead

Courtesy of a partnership between Buckingham County Public Schools and the Jenkins Donelson Foundation, the fair offered hundreds of free shoes and socks, mostly in children’s sizes, and it featured education on foot health.

“It’s been wonderful to watch these children’s eyes light up when they find a pair of shoes that they like, and most of our kids have been wearing them home today,” Division Superintendent Dr. Cecil Snead said.

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Carolyn Jenkins, executive director of the nonprofit Jenkins Donelson Foundation, based in Stafford County, said the foundation was awarded a grant from The Bama Works Fund of Dave Matthews Band, based in Charlottesville.

“And we used that money to purchase the shoes and socks and things to help us with the Foot Health Fair,” she said.

Jenkins was pleased with how the two-hour event went.

“Oh, yeah, I’m really happy,” she said. “Giving away shoes is one of my favorite things, and we’re not taking shoes back.”

A multitude of shoes and socks remained available on the tables at the complex as the noon conclusion of the fair neared.

“The teachers, the principals, the school board will distribute them to the other families in need, because I want to make sure that we can meet the needs of the community as much as possible,” Jenkins said. “I know we can’t do it all, but we can do a little bit.”

Buckingham County School Board Chairman Thomas Hutcherson was helping at the event and estimated that 150 people attended.

Latora Johnson was pleased by what the fair had to offer. She came with Tyquan Johnson, who gained some new size-five shoes as he enters the third grade.

“I think it’s a good event,” she said.

Kacee Clark accompanied rising fifth-grader Eddie Cheatham, who got some new shoes as well, and she explained how she felt the fair benefits the community.

“I think it really provides parents an opportunity to save some money for back-to-school supplies and things that they need,” Clark said.

The event was intended by organizers to coincide with back-to-school shopping.

Clark noted it also showed children that their school cares about what they have on their feet and that they have good foot health.

Snead said the fair brought the community together, fostering positivity, and it allowed interaction with students in a less formal setting.

“For example, you have administrators here, myself, and we’re dressed, as one little girl said, like normal people,” he said. “So, they like that, and so it’s sparked a lot of good conversation and good will.”

Near the end of the event, Snead said all of the students who had attended were Buckingham County Public School students.

“We’ve mainly had some K-5 (students), but we’ve also had some middle schoolers come through, and we’ve been pleased with that,” he said.

Snead also emphasized that the fair was not just about free shoes, but it offered a platform for Jenkins to convey some important lessons.

“She’s indicated to me that we all take our foot health for granted until we’re in pain or something’s not going well, and so part of it’s to educate our children about foot health as well,” he said.

Jenkins posed a question to many students that came to the event: “What did you do yesterday that you could do without your feet?”

She proceeded to take them through a series of posters full of information about foot health, including insights into the power of foot massages, economical ways to eliminate stinky feet, tips on the best types of flip-flops and where to wear them and details on pedicures.

After conveying this knowledge, Jenkins and volunteers quizzed students on it through a game.

Jaylen Anderson, a rising eighth-grader at Buckingham County Middle School, was a volunteer who said, “I really enjoyed participating in the game because it was just showing basic knowledge of what people know about their feet and to educate them more about it.”

Snead plans to try to make the fair an annual event.