Illinois QC Kiwanis members step up to save shoe giveaway

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Kids are putting their best foot for new shoes at Famous Footwear.

Banker Mike Bell is among the volunteers on Friday, December 7.

"It's just overwhelming," he said.  "Think about some of the things that we take for granted and seem simple, but at the same time are very necessary."

After a remarkable 65 years, it's getting tougher for the AT&T Pioneers to do it alone.  The program almost ended - until a Christmas miracle.

"The Kiwanis stepped up and said they would be able to jump in," said AT&T Pioneer Jim Wieland.

That's why some 300 kids continue to pick out new shoes and socks.  For the retirees, it's sweet to see the program continue.

"It warms your heart," said Wieland.  "It really does."

Even store employees say this is their favorite day of the year.  Judging by all the smiles over the shoes, it's easy to see why.

"They're so excited," said Virginia Ruark, Famous Footwear.  "It's awesome to see that.  I love it."

Ruark came from DeKalb to help the kids in Moline.  Time after time, she finds just the right fit.

"It's nice to give back to the community, especially kids that don't have a lot," she said.

The Illinois Kiwanis Clubs are saving the holiday tradition.  They would like to eventually expand it into Iowa.

"There's a number of folks in the community that believe it needs to continue," said Bell.  "We're rallying resources at this point to make sure that happens."

For the AT&T Pioneers, who were there from the start, it's a good fit.

"It just feels good," Wieland concluded.  "It really does."

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