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Church spearheads drive to provide kids with gym shoes

Grayslake-  Earl Brown MundeleSt. Andrews Church member volunteer is ready get proper size from collection. Elijah's Mantel is hosting

Grayslake- Earl Brown of Mundelein a St. Andrews Church member and volunteer is ready to get the proper size from the collection. Elijah's Mantel is hosting a shoe and clothing sale for the needy from 9 a.m.-11 a.m Saturday morning, with lines going around the block. All the items are free. The store is located within St. Andrews Church. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 21, 2012 6:16AM

People were so eager and grateful for the opportunity to get new gym shoes for their children that they began lining up before 5 a.m. Saturday at the distribution point for the free sneakers — St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church on Park Avenue in Grayslake.

Distribution started at 8:30 a.m. and, by the end of the event, hundreds of families and children were helped.

“We had a wonderful turnout. We were able to serve 150 families and, of that, 410 children got shoes. It was just wonderful,” said Marjie Jobes of Grayslake, a volunteer from St. Andrew’s.

The shoe give-away is an extension of the church’s Elijah’s Mantle ministry. Elijah’s Mantle is a children’s clothing closet that provides new and gently used clothing to the needy for free.

This was the seventh year for the shoe distribution, Jobes said. A team of about 45 people helped run the event efficiently. Some volunteers came from St. Andrew’s.

United Protestant Church — literally down the street from St. Andrew’s — sent its youth group and some of their families to help.

Several Spanish-speaking interpreters were among the volunteers.

“We were able to move the people along really quickly,” Jobes said. “We were very pleased how well it went. People coming were grateful and the kids just lit up with their new shoes. I think we all had a good time in addition to doing something for the folks who needed it.”

The goal was to get children a new pair of gym shoes and new socks in time for the new school year, Jobes said. Community members contributed money or purchased new shoes for the give-away.

They tried to get 10 pairs in every size for boys and girls. She estimated that they gave away about 450 pairs of shoes. The majority of the leftover shoes were sized for teenagers, she said. Some extra shoes will be donated to another charity and some will go into storage for next year’s event.

Last year, about 190 families were served at the shoe give-away, Jobes estimated.

“I think at the beginning, we gave maybe 200 pairs of shoes away. It’s grown bigger and bigger every year,” Jobes said. “We’ve really enjoyed doing it.”

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