Students at Perkins Elementary School in Bario Logan are all smiling Thursday because they were given new shoes and socks by the members of the OPEIU Local 30.
The Office and Professional Employees International Union, which represents primarily healthcare workers, conducted a shoe drive for the students and it was so successful that it had money left over to give to the teachers for supplies.
"We had people donating shoes for weeks and weeks and we had some people just donating money," OPEIU member Walter Allen said. "Some people donated other things and then we put it all together."
More than 500 pairs of shoes and socks were given out to the students Thursday and about $4,000 were given to teachers at the school. The union chose the school because the school is located in a highly impoverished area, Allen said.
"We think this school needed more help than even most of them, so we chose to come here and try to help out," he said.
Many of the students were very grateful for the shoes. Oscar Cervantes, a first grader at the school, said his parents do not have money to buy new shoes every year.
The shoes were distributed at the school's auditorium and Allen said as much as it felt good to be able to do this for the students, their reactions to shoes were beyond what he could have expected.
The kids were coming with small and uncomfortable shoes, "And we're able to get them smiling and laughing and they're choosing the shoes by color and who likes what," he said. "Sometimes they come in two kids at a time and they choose it for each other. We never imagined it would be like that."