SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — It’s no secret that most kids look forward to the summertime when school finally flashes in the rearview mirror and the toil of homework is no more. But for those in need, it can mean a long, miserable stretch of time due to a lack of access to clothes, food and more. Both in Springfield and Illinois overall.
But there is a foundation in Springfield that uses volunteers and selfless community members to lend that helping hand when families need it during the summer. They’re called Share the Spirit Foundation, Inc. and it was formed in 2003. Two sisters-in-law decided there was a need in Illinois and Colorado that had to be met.
“We’ve always taught our younger generation, as in our own children and the younger generation in our communities, that the spirit is also of giving not just receiving. It goes both ways. We just enjoy it. We want everybody to have fun. The kids to have fun, our volunteers to have fun. Spirited is kind of the way it is,” says Tonya Voepel, co-founder of Share the Spirit.
It was in 2003 that Tonya and Karen Voepel wanted to do more for the youth in their communities, including their own children. After a hike for breast cancer under their belt, the Voepel duo wanted to begin outreach by working to eliminate a dire need families are facing. That includes worn out shoes, socks, and much more.
That’s why on Monday and in May of each year, Share the Spirit puts on a shoe and sock giveaway. Kids at the Early Learning Center in Springfield picked out a brand new pair of kicks. The giveaway was also possible thanks to Scheels in Springfield. They donated $2,700 in shopping credit to cover the majority of the shoes. Shoe Carnival also provided their support for this effort.
“Oh they’re so happy and they’re excited to pick out a pair that they like. They walk into the classroom and they can be proud of what they have, show it off to others. It’s just a real good feeling all the way around,” says Lori Harrison, Principal of the Early Learning Center.
To learn more about Share the Spirit Foundation, click here.
You can support the foundation and the kids they reach by clicking here.