Nearly 200 TUSD students will be able to walk to school in a pair of new shoes by the end of today, thanks to the Educational Enrichment Foundation.

The foundation hosted its first shoe shopping party of the year Thursday, with 100 children in grades K-12 picking out a new pair of shoes and three pairs of socks from Payless ShoeSource. The event will be repeated today.

The trip was topped off with a free cookie from Eegee’s.

The children, identified and nominated by their schools, are considered to be those most in need, said EEF Executive Director Pam Francis.

Students who sometimes come in self-conscious about their footwear, always leave with smiles on their faces, Francis said.

“One boy came with gaping holes in the bottom of his shoes,” she said. “He wore his new ones back to school.”

The shoe-shopping party continues today with 95 children from other TUSD schools.

The Educational Enrichment Foundation hosts three shoe-shopping parties a year — each one a two-day event.

The parties, which have been held for more than 20 years, are funded by charitable community groups. Thursday’s event was sponsored by the Rincon Optimist Club, and today’s is sponsored by Wings Like Eagles.

“These children come to us needing shoes not through their own actions, and they need to be treated with dignity,” Francis said. “It’s important to prepare these children to learn, and having a pair of shoes that fit and are comfortable will allow them to focus in the classroom.

“It’s all part of making our community stronger.”

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at or 573-4175. On Twitter @AlexisHuicochea

Education writer for #ThisIsTucson. Mom of one.