XENIA — Area elementary school students received early holiday gifts Wednesday.
Through a joint effort of the Xenia Police Division, Greene County FOP Lodge 37, the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, other Greene County law enforcement agencies, Cedarville University, and Shoes 4 The Shoeless, kids in need received shoes and some other goodies.
The tradition started in 1929 in Greene County when some Xenia officers bought shoes for kids who needed them, according to a Facebook post by the XPD.
“During the Great Depression they weren’t able to get them. So they pooled the money and bought them some shoes,” Joe Thorne, president of FOP Lodge 37 told WDTN. “In 1936 we formed our Greene County FOP Lodge and started our annual program from then on.”
In previous years, officers and deputies would pick children up at their elementary schools and take them to a store and buy them some shoes and socks. This is the first year Shoes 4 the Shoeless has been involved and it brought its mobile shoe “store” to the Greene County FOP Lodge Hall on Dayton Avenue.
XPD officers picked up children from their elementary schools and brought them to the lodge where they were fitted for shoes. The children then get to pick out some shoes and some other goodies to take with them. They also had a chance to meet Santa, listen to some Christmas songs and get some snacks.
“What we do never gets old,” Jonathan Hauge, director of engagement for Shoes 4 the Shoeless told WDTN. “To see joy on kids’ faces and see them light up when they receive something that they don’t necessarily have that they needed — It is tough to beat.”
This year, they fitted more than 100 kids with new shoes.
The giveaway ties in with the FOP’s mission of giving back.
“We’re able to actually fill some of that void and give them something that they need,” Thorne said.
Our partners at WDTN contributed to this story.