Jill Lane, Chairperson for Caldwell County’s Happy Feet Means Learning Feet, was in studio Tuesday morning to talk to WPKY about Happy Feet Means Learning Feet in the Caldwell area.

Lane said that Happy Feet Means Learning Feet began in 2009 when Jerry Baird, a retired coal miner in Union County, saw that there was a need for children to have new shoes. He soon realized that it wasn’t just a Union County thing and branched out to other counties in Kentucky. Now there are 14 counties participating. Caldwell County has been involved since 2013 when Lane heard of it during a HOPE/COPE meeting. She contacted Baird and was in awe that he was able to work with Shoe Carnival to provide so many children with shoes so she made the necessary steps to bring the program to Caldwell County.

Since then they have given over 800 shoes to children in need, including for the past two years, new athletic shoes for the Special Olympics team.

Each spring they send out private invitations to come to a fitting where Shoe Carnival is there with all the shoes children can choose from and the kids get their feet sized for the perfect fit and also receive goodie bags. The kids then receive their new shoes by the start of the school year in the fall.

On Monday, Happy Feet Means Learning Feet Caldwell members, Lane, Ty Englebright, and Jake Pepper, got to personally present the Special Olympics team with their new shoes for their summer events. The students were ecstatic and tried out the shoes then and there, running around the track and just having fun. Lane said that it was amazing seeing the joy in their faces, that it was just like Christmas for them.

Lane also said that they haven’t had to hold yard sales in several years because local businesses have been gracious enough to donate. Currently corporate sponsorship is a $250 donation or more and so far this year Capitol Cinemas, Woodmen of the World Chapter 92, Farmers Bank, OnMain Financial, and the Knights of Columbus Council 15181 are sponsors. They could also use donations for the goodie bags. Those who wish, can bring their donation to OneMain Financial at 1011 West Main Street in Princeton. All of the money goes directly to the kids in Caldwell County, none of it will be used elsewhere. Normally right around $6,000 is needed each year to provide shoes and the program averages around 200 pairs of shoes a year.

If you see a child in need you can also contact Lane or Katherine Prince at 270-365-8050 to put a child on the list. The child must be in the Caldwell County School System and calls can be anonymous. If you have any other questions, or wish to donate, you can call Jill Lane at 270-365-2033.

You can watch the full interview below.