“I got mine! Look! Look at my new shoes!” children said as they took their first steps in their brand-new kicks.

More than 100 students from Rivelon and Mellichamp elementary schools received a pair of athletic shoes and socks through a partnership with Orangeburg Rotary Club’s Happy Feet Program and SMS Sportsworld on Monday.

The students were selected by their principals. The principals got each of the children’s shoe sizes so the shoes could be ordered in advance.

“This is going to make some big smiles on a bunch of faces today,” Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5 Public Relations Director Bill Clark said.

After receiving their new kicks, the children were handed a Coke and potato chips as they boarded the bus back to school.

“Thank you!” they said politely, with big smiles.

This is the third consecutive year that the Orangeburg Rotary Club has held its Happy Feet Program. It has donated a total of almost 500 pairs of shoes to the Orangeburg community.

The Rotary Club receives a matching grant from the local Rotary district for the project.

“It’s one of the most rewarding things we do,” City Administrator John Yow said. Yow said he enjoys seeing how excited the children are when they receive their new tennis shoes.

Dr. Rena Bowman, principal of Rivelon Elementary School, said she is thankful for a community that donates to the children.

“A lot of them come from poverty-stricken homes and environments, and to say that anybody did this for us – we’re so excited,” Bowman said.

Bowman says the children were talking about receiving their new shoes for a while.

“We’ve got nothing but a lot of love from our community. We certainly are so appreciative of that,” Bowman said.

The Orangeburg Rotary Club also donates books and reads to the children of Rivelon Elementary School, Bowman noted.

Members of Orangeburg Preparatory School’s Interact Club helped the children try on their shoes and make sure they fit properly.

Nicole Ayer, an 11th grader, said she loves the children’s faces when they see their new shoes.

“They love it!” Ayer said.

Zoe Kittrell, also an 11th grader, says she feels very happy for the children.

Logan Robinson says volunteering to fit children for their new sneakers made her heart feel great.

“Their faces brighten. They smile really big. It just makes me happy to see other people happy like that,” Robinson said. She’s also a junior.

Junior Riley Frierson also participated.

Orangeburg Rotary Club President Bob McCurry says the Happy Feet Program is one of the best things that the Rotary Club does.

“You’re benefiting needy children. You’re providing them something they otherwise would not have,” McCurry said.

McCurry said OP’s Interact Club is getting a chance to see what service is all about.

“They get the opportunity to help serve and see charity in action. It’s just really nice for them too,” he said.

McCurry says the Rotary Club is planning to assist another local charity soon.

“It’s just a good feeling that you get any time when you help benefit those who need some assistance,” he said.

Contact the writer: princess.williams@timesanddemocrat.com or (803) 533-5516

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