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Back-to-School Shoe Giveaway set for Friday

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John and Jan Dewaal display a few of the hundreds of pairs of shoes that will be given to school children Friday afternoon during the Dewaal Back to School Shoe Giveaway. DALLUS WHITFIELD / The Wilson Post

The Dewaal family, with help from the community, has provided back-to-school kicks for kids for the last 20 years.

On Friday, July 22 they anticipate giving away 900 pairs of shoes to school-age children from 4 to 6 p.m. at Mary Chaffin Church, located at 715 Lake Street in Lebanon.

Event Coordinator John Dewaal said giving away hundreds of shoes has been "the norm" for them in recent years.

"We always buy the shoes knowing the Lord will send the funds," he explained. Funds are gathered through area businesses and church donations. Dewaal said that since they have been doing the give-away for so long, they have a lot of loyal donors.

The idea behind the annual giveaway was born in 1993 when, recognizing children's needs, Bertie Alligood and the late Becky Dewaal began finding ways to provide shoes to a few children. Shortly thereafter, First Baptist Church of Lebanon began contributing financially toward the ministry and, through the years, other non-profits, churches, volunteers and businesses have joined in the drive.

Dewaal said that children need to be residents of Wilson County and must be accompanied by a parent or guardian - and that no child will be turned away; however, sizes do run out. They encourage folks to get there as early.

"We've seen kids walk up without shoes and holes in their socks. It is just incredible to see their faces light up when they get these shoes," he added.

Translators from Renacer Church will on-hand to assist Spanish-speaking families.

There will also be snacks and live music provided by the Pickett Family at the event.

Those who wish to volunteer at Friday's giveaway should arrive at 2 p.m. or as early as possible to check in and receive orientation. Shoes, undergarments and supplies will be distributed on a first come, first served basis. Proof of Wilson County residence is required.

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