300 Williston students receive new shoes

Published: Dec. 6, 2019 at 4:39 PM CST
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Every Lewis and Clark Elementary school student in Williston received a brand new pair of shoes. The cost: getting their feet washed by volunteers.

The nonprofit humanitarian group, Samaritan’s Feet, has done the same for more than 400,000 other children across the country. Williston’s Thrivent Financial made it possible for the organization to serve Williston for the first time.

Students were surprised as they walked through the gym doors and were quickly escorted to feet-washing stations.

“We are having an opportunity to engage with a child, and hear their story, and have a dialogue that is just priceless. We never know the impact that we’re going to have on that child in that moment in time," said Denise Blomberg, regional director of operations for Samaritan’s Feet.

After drying their feet, volunteers from Williston State College’s volleyball team, the high school’s National Honor Society, and Oasis Petroleum got to fit around 300 children with socks and a brand new pair of shoes.

“Usually I get hand-me-downs from my cousins for shoes, and then I keep wearing those a lot," said Winter Hardtle, third grader.

“Kids are judged on their clothing, the footwear that they wear, really what we are doing by providing all students with a pair of shoes is to level the playing field so that they all feel important, they’re all inspired,” said Blomberg. “It transcends a lot of religious and cultural backgrounds.”

They hope Lewis and Clark Elementary is just the first of many schools they serve in Williston.

Earlier this year, Samaritan’s Feet and Thrivent Financial distributed shoes to 300 students in Minot and 400 in Grand Forks.