They had $2,500, so they bought new shoes for poor, at-risk kids

One of the children in the Granite City South Center Riverbend Head Start program thanks Elks member Sonny Ambuehl for his new shoes.
One of the children in the Granite City South Center Riverbend Head Start program thanks Elks member Sonny Ambuehl for his new shoes.

About 100 impoverished and at-risk children in the Granite City South Center Riverbend Head Start program got to pick out a new pair of shoes last month at no cost to their families.

The Granite City Elks Lodge No. 1063 worked with the Payless Shoes store in Nameoki Commons to use a $2,500 grant from the Elks National Foundation to purchase the shoes.

The Head Start program said the most popular shoes were the ones that light up and the ones decorated with Disney princesses and cartoon characters from the television shows “PAW Patrol” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” But some families picked warm boots in preparation for winter, according to the program.

Because the store offered discounts, many children also left with several pairs of new socks.

Heather Hope, Riverbend Head Start’s public relations director, said the community support is “so important.”

“Having shoes that fit comfortably makes a big difference in a child’s ability to learn,” she said.

The idea for “New Shoe Day” came from Elks member Sonny Ambuehl and Niedringhaus United Methodist Church, where he is a parishioner. Money leftover was used to purchase 35 backpacks full of school supplies to raffle off to Head Start students during a back-to-school event.

Having shoes that fit comfortably makes a big difference in a child’s ability to learn.

Heather Hope, Riverbend Head Start’s public relations director

Want to attend a military academy?

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, is currently accepting online applications from young people interested in attending a U.S. military academy. Members of Congress can nominate candidates for appointment to the following: the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.; U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.; U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.; and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y.

A candidate must be an American citizen, at least 17 years old but no older than 23 on July 1, 2017, unmarried, under no legal obligation to support a child and a legal resident of the 12th District of Illinois, which Bost represents.

For more information, call Dominique Manley in Bost’s Belleville office at 618-233-8026.

Teens take to great outdoors to practice team work

Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic School’s seventh graders can now say they’ve tried a high ropes course, rock wall climb, zip line, scavenger hunt, archery and more.

The students traveled to Camp Wartburg in Waterloo for two days and one night with the goal of learning the ins and outs of cooperation.

Mascoutah high schoolers celebrate patriotism

Mascoutah High School created a new event it called “Patriotism Day” on Sept. 16 to celebrate the school’s recent recognition as an Illinois Democracy School by the McCormick Foundation.

Students, faculty and staff were encouraged to wear red, white and blue and participate in a voter registration drive.

Other local Illinois Democracy Schools include: Belleville East High School; Belleville West High School; Collinsville High School; Granite City High School; and O’Fallon High School.

Students honored for doing the right thing

Six metro-east students were recognized by Do the Right Thing of Greater St. Louis during a Sept. 14 ceremony.

Honorees were: Braxton McCall of Westhaven School; Marco Orr of Henry Raab School; Lindsay Phingsten and Mason Varnum of Smithton School; Maggy Swiney and Michael Swiney of New Athens Elementary.

Have you heard of International Dot Day?

It all started with a reading of “The Dot” by Peter H. Reynolds.

The book is about gaining the confidence to be creative, and it inspired International Dot Day.

As part of the day’s festivities, about 125 first and fifth grade students at LaVerna Evans Elementary School in O’Fallon celebrated their creativity with an underlying theme of dots; They played Dominoes, covered bingo cards with the round candy Smarties, and created a framed work of art using dot-shaped materials.

Mentors raise awareness of chronic disorder

Belleville West High School mentors traveled to the Washington University School of Medicine during Sickle Cell Awareness Month to support the nearly 100,000 Americans affected by the disease.

The students who participated in the annual Sickle Cell Stroll on Sept. 10 were: Jacob Craig, Jalen Davis, Dalton Fox, Devin Hunt, Ethan Lewis, Trevor Pentland, Damon Sanders, Tyrell Utley, Jack Bruening, Donavyn Dancy and Damon Little. They mentor other students at Belleville West.

Sickle cell disease causes red blood cells to become misshapen — crescent-shaped rather than round — and clog the flow of blood and oxygen in the body.