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Mission Hills | VALLEY FOCUS

Group Provides Shoes for Needy Children

November 01, 1997|SYLVIA L. OLIANDE

The 7-year-old boy at Langdon Avenue Elementary School had decided which pair of shoes he wanted the minute he saw them.

His eyes lit up when Jean Sowers, a volunteer for the Assistance League of the San Fernando Valley, lifted the lid of the shoe box.

They were white Converse basketball shoes, but best of all, they had blue "goo" in a pocket in the toe that sparkled and moved when touched.

Despite Sowers' efforts to divert his attention from them with spit-and-polish dress shoes, the youngster would not be dissuaded.

"They fit," he said the instant his size-1 1/2 foot touched the bottom of the shoe. Smiling, Sowers had no choice but to agree. These would be his.

The boy was one of 15 Langdon students who received new shoes from the league this week during a shopping trip to a Kinney shoe store near school.

Langdon nurse Judy Holtz said the children chosen by the school to receive new shoes are those seen in footwear that is taped up or otherwise in disrepair.

The new shoes, she said, do a lot for the children's self-esteem.

"Some [children] are from families that don't often get new things; they rely on hand-me-downs, so at least the little ones don't get first choice," she said.

Through its Operation School Bell program, the Assistance League has adopted five Valley schools, giving backpacks, jackets and clothes to the needy each year.

Last year, though reluctant to take on another campus, league members pledged $1,000 to meet Langdon's needs when the school's principal asked the organization to add the 1,490-student campus to its list.

This week's "shoe buy" was the third such shopping trip since last fall, serving an estimated 50 Langdon children.

"There is an overwhelming number of families that have three and four children to keep up with shoes," said Kit Hinkle, chairwoman of the league's Operation School Bell. "They have growth spurts and grow out of them so fast."

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