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Good for the sole
Free shoes - girl BEST.jpg
Centertown pre-K student Sybil Haston smiles as teacher Samantha Harvey fits her with new shoes compliments of Smartt Assembly of God and Convoy of Hope. All 524 students at the school received a free pair of new shoes.

Happiness starts with your soul – and your sole.

Thanks to a partnership between Smartt Assembly of God and Convoy of Hope, all students at Centertown School now have new soles. The organizations combined to distribute 524 pairs of new shoes Monday morning in the school gym. The shoes were provided free of charge.

“It’s rewarding to see the kids smile and to see their excitement,” said Chuck Catalfu, pastor of Smartt Assembly of God. “Every kid at the school gets new shoes. If they enrolled late and are new students here, we’ll order shoes for them today.”

It marks the fourth time Smartt Assembly of God has arranged for an entire school to get new shoes. Students at Bobby Ray, West, and Morrison are previous recipients.

“We love our teachers and our students and we want to help you because we love you,” said Catalfu in an announcement to the student body before the distribution began. “God loves you and we love you.”

So how does Smartt Assembly of God acquire over 500 pairs of new shoes? Catalfu says they send a request to Rural Compassion, a program offered by Convoy of Hope. The request is evaluated to determine the extent of need.

“Since this is our fourth one, we may not be approved again for a while,” said Catalfu.

After approval was granted, every student was measured to determine their shoe size, a process which took about two hours. Once the shoes arrived, volunteers with Smartt Assembly of God had to group them by homeroom teacher and place them in a bag with the student’s name.

Chuck’s wife, Shirley Catalfu, says she still remembers what students told her at the shoe distribution at Bobby Ray.

“I tried to help one little boy put on his new shoes and he said, ‘Let me hold them for a few more minutes before I put them on,’” said Shirley. “Then I had a little girl tell me the shoes were great because all she had to wear were flip-flops, even in the winter.”

Teachers helped smaller students try on their new shoes to make sure they fit properly. Shoes that didn’t fit could be returned for a new size.