(Courtesy photo) About 350 pairs of free shoes will be given to Tuscola County students at events in Caro and Vassar this weekend. Kare & Serve Inc., a Christian-based nonprofit organization, hosts the events, where students also receive free hot dogs, chips and beverages.

Students offered free shoes, hot dogs

Tuscola County students can receive two pairs of free shoes apiece this weekend, courtesy of Kare & Serve Inc.

The Christian-based nonprofit organization provides new and used shoes from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at St. Paul Lutheran Church at 503 S. State St. in Caro. Each student may receive up to two pairs of free socks as well.

A second giveaway occurs from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday at White Birch Park (also known as Sticks Park) at 465 S. West St. in Vassar.

“Last year we just did it in Caro on one day, but we felt that some people might not be able to make it on that day, so we decided to hold it in Vassar as well,” said Ellenore Pringle, secretary/treasurer of Kare & Serve Inc., which brings about 350 pairs of shoes to St. Paul Lutheran in Caro.

About 120 pairs are new.

“We also understood there were quite a few more under-resourced students in the Vassar area,” said Pringle, noting the shoes are given to students from elementary school through high school.

Students also receive a free meal on Saturday and Sunday at each event, part of the “Happy Feet Shoe Giveaway.”

“We always try to make this sort of a fun event so we’re grilling hot dogs, and serving chips and drinks,” Pringle said.

Last year, students in 87 families received free shoes at the Kare & Serve event in Caro, but Pringle hopes more families will benefit from the giveaway this weekend in Tuscola County, where Kare & Serve focuses its efforts.

Pringle said Angila Heinitz of the Tuscola Intermediate School District has promoted the free-shoe project to local educators to try to spread word of the event to students.

Projects organized by Kare & Serve Inc., founded in 2015, also provide food, winter apparel and hygiene products to Tuscola County students, in addition to paying for Thumbody Express and driver-education fees.

“When we first started out we donated 1,600 backpacks full of school supplies, to seven school systems (in several counties),” Pringle said. “But through the years we’ve decided to focus our energy in Tuscola County working with those students.”

Pringle said the group aims to address “basic needs” of Tuscola County students.

Readers can donate to help the nonprofit organization’s projects by visiting the “Kare & Serve, Inc.” Facebook page. Readers also can visit www.kareandserve.com.

The group’s grant funds and financial support comes from the Mid-Michigan chapter of 100+ Women Who Care based in Frankenmuth, the Vassar chapter of 100+ Women Who Care, Thrivent Financial of Frankenmuth and Blue Cross Complete of Michigan.

“They provide us with the financial means to continue our mission,” Pringle said.

Blue Cross Complete financed the food and socks provided to the public at this weekend’s event in Caro and Vassar. Readers can find more information on that organization’s charity efforts at www.mibluecrosscomplete.com.

Tom Gilchrist is a staff writer for The Advertiser. He can be reached at gilchrist@tcadvertiser.com.

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