It’s the best day of the school year, according to staff at Chamberlain Elementary, in Kanawha City.
Kids stomped, wiggled, jumped and even danced as they tried on their new shoes, courtesy of Rack Room Shoes at the Charleston Town Center mall.
The shoe drop event, in its fourth year at Chamberlain, surprised each of the school’s 200 students Wednesday with a fresh pair of tennis shoes.
“This is kind of the best day of my life!” Aiyana Monroe, a third-grader, said as she showed off her light-blue Nikes.
The shoes — name brands like Nike, Adidas, Sketchers, Vans and more — were donated through Rack Room’s partnership with nonprofit Shoes That Fit.
Shoppers in store have the option of tacking on a donation to their purchase in order to provide new shoes for local students. Rack Room matched the donations made in the Charleston store, according to Chamberlain staff.
Jamie Larch, manager of the Charleston Rack Room location, said his customers and company together donated more than $6,200 in shoes for Chamberlain students.
Alma Altalouzi and Brylyn Harris, best friends both in the second grade, were thrilled to receive matching white Adidas shoes.
“We got to pick our shoes. We found those boxes and ran to them,” Altalouzi said as she laced up her shoes.
More than 60 percent of the students at Chamberlain are identified as low socioeconomic status, according to the state department of education.
But the program makes sure all students receive a new pair of shoes, so no one feels singled out.
“This may be the first pair of new shoes they’ve had in a long time that fit,” school counselor Amanda Ross said.
Principal Phoebe McCloud said the surprise shoe day is “lovely chaos” as kids are ushered into a classroom-turned-shoe store to receive new kicks — some with lights and rhinestones, others high-top basketball sneakers — hand-picked by their teachers.
Chamberlain staff spent the week leading up to the event covertly checking shoe sizes and gathering information on kids’ favorite colors.
Some kids were immediately handed a perfectly-picked pair, while others browsed options to find the ideal match.
Speech therapist Jeannie Akers said she felt blessed to pick out shoes for 30 students.
“It felt like Christmas to me,” she said. “I want to please them because this is a big deal.”
Kamryn Brown, a kindergartner, received a pair of electric blue Nike Hustle tennis shoes. He quickly threw his old high-tops in the box before jumping around in his new shoes.
He said his new shoes would help him run “super fast.”