MINOT, N.D. - Every student at Washington Elementary School received the gift of new shoes Wednesday.
Samaritan's Feet travels the world providing a new pair of athletic shoes to children.
To date they have donated more than 7 million pairs in 390 U.S. cities and 108 countries across the world.
"I love my new shoes,” said Washington Elementary students.
Students walked into their gym Wednesday morning to a room full of volunteers and boxes of brand new shoes.
"I was so excited to get new shoes,” says Corbin Gartner, kindergarten.
Kids were paired with a volunteer and taken over to get their feet washed.
"They washed your feet and it sort of tickled,” said Berit Meinert, first grade.
"All the kids have a story. They want to share why they like their shoes and they want to share what they are doing this summer. They get a chance to connect with our volunteers and have a little conversation,” said Matt Murken, MSU men’s basketball head coach.
Now the fun begins! Students got to pick out their own shoes.
"A new pair of shoes is a lot of things. It's dignity. It's fitting in. It's pride,” said Denise Blomberg, regional director for Samaritan's Feet.
Everyone had a different reason for why their picked their shoes.
"I picked mine because they looked sort of comfy and they look really cool to me,” said Berit Meinert
"Because I liked the color on the inside and the back,” said Sloane Waind, first grader.
"Because they are old fashion,” said Kaiya.
"I got some cool new shoes. They are black and white. I got some new socks too,” says August, second grade.
"In a day in age when kids are bullied about their clothing, their foot wear, the goal is always to fit in. We know that there are kids out there who come from little means or who want for nothing. That is why we level the playing field by distributing shoes to all children in the schools,” said Denise Blomberg.
The kids say it was a much needed new pair.
"I grew two sizes up, in under a month! I had to curl up my toes. But the ones I brought today didn't it was just cramping my pinky toe,” said Autum Griffith, second grade.
"You have kids that have had shoes that were maybe too tight and, you know, times are tough sometimes to go get new shoes at the end of the year," said Kendo Carlson, the principal at Washington Elementary.
Volunteers say they hope more is learned from the day.
"The hope is that it is not just a pair of shoes, but it is that they see people from around Minot coming and giving back to them and someday they will grow and be
leaders in our community and be service-minded when they become adults,” said Matt Murken.
Happily walking into summer with some new kicks.
Student-athletes and staff members at Minot State joined other community volunteers in putting on the event.