SHIAWASSEE COUNTY — The COVID-19 outbreak has hit children especially hard, and the Owosso Area Ministerial Association and friends are hoping to put a little spring in their step as they return to school.
Organizers are collecting shoes between now and July for Step Up, a community outreach program. The shoes will be distributed for free at the Downtown Owosso Farmers Market sometime in late July and, if supplies last, again in early August.
They’re hoping to give away thousands of pairs to kids from across Shiawassee County.
“With COVID, we thought that people needed help, and we didn’t need to make children a fallout in all this. I just felt I needed to do something,” said Janet Rosencrantz of Durand, who came up with the idea and began collecting shoes a couple of months ago and has 55 pairs so far.
Others groups regularly distribute free toys or backpacks to children in need. Rosencrantz thought: Why not give away shoes as well?
Rosencrantz, a former choir director at St. John’s United Church of Christ in Owosso, approached OAMA leaders about joining forces for the shoe drive.
They didn’t miss a step.
“We joyfully jumped in with both feet,” said the Rev. Mike Cooper of St. John’s UCC, an OAMA member.
The Rev. Deb Grazier from First Congregational Church UCC, an OAMA member, said: “People have struggled this year financially and emotionally — we’re very aware of the taxation this has had on people. We all went, ‘What a great idea.’”
Both pastors said they have received many requests for help during the past year of the pandemic, with some parents saying their child’s shoes were falling apart.
“The fact that God called (Rosencrantz) to do this is supported by the reality of need,” Cooper said.
Flyers will be distributed before the giveaway to help get the word out. Donated shoes must be new. Tennis shoes are preferred, but any sturdy shoes suitable for school will be accepted. No sandals, please. All childrens and adult sizes, including half sizes, are sought.
People can drop off shoes in boxes marked “Step Up” at the following locations:
n Sosumi Sushi, 110 E. Exchange St., Owosso
n Greg and Lou’s, 1460 N. M-52, Owosso Township
n Tiger Shark Cafe & HQ Fun Bunker, 1006 N. Saginaw St., Durand
n Owosso First Church of the Nazarene, 1865 M-52, Owosso Township
n First Congregational Church UCC, 327 N. Washington St., Owosso
n Redeemer Lutheran Church, 2150 N. M-52, Owosso
n St. John’s UCC, 429 N. Washington St., Owosso
n Time for Flowers, 303 N. Shiawassee St., Corunna
Drop-off locations in the Perry, Laingsburg and New Lothrop areas are still being sought. Those who wish to make a cash donation can send it to OAMA, P.O. Box 911, Owosso, MI 48867.
For more information, or to request a pick-up of shoes from your home or business, call Rosencrantz at or Grazier at (989) 277-4943.
The OAMA is a an organization of Owosso-area churches supported by churches throughout the county. Every year, OAMA presents a National Day of Prayer event, set this year for noon on May 6 in Fayette Park in Owosso; the SUMMERPraise! concert series beginning in July; a community concert on the Sunday before Thanksgiving and community Lent services.