500 pairs of shoes donated to children in need

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RAPID CITY, S.D. -

Day in the Park lasted throughout the afternoon at Memorial Park.

The free community event helps benefit the financially struggling population in Rapid City. Non-profit organizations from around the Black Hills teamed up with Cornerstone Rescue Mission and Samaritan’s Feet to give away free shoes and lunch.

Cornerstone Volunteer Coordinator, Deb Berg, said that the event is expected to bring in around 800 people.

“A bunch of us non-profits have joined together,” Berg said. “We're giving away 500 pairs of shoes to the kids. There's a free meal to everybody. It's kind of for the struggling population of Rapid City.”

Melissa and Shaun Riedesel, volunteers at the event, said that they volunteer to see the looks on the children’s faces and to let people know that they’re appreciated.

“Just giving them a little bit of joy, you can see it in their face - their face lights up when they get their new pair of shoes,” Melissa Riedessel said.

Her husband Shaun continued to say, "It's just providing some - just loving on some people, and letting them feel appreciated and also shoes are so important. It's a necessity of life and so, if we're able to do something that helps make their life a little better - that's the whole point of this.”

Volunteers were given duties such as “feet washers” and “shoe runners” where they’d wash children’s feet and then provide them with free shoes. Regional Director of Samaritan’s Feet, Denise Blomberg, explained the importance of the free shoes.

“It is very common for us to hear a child leap out of their seat after a volunteer has washed their feet and say, ‘This is the best day of my life.’” Blomberg said. “Shoes are a status symbol for children and for adults. They're a dignity item. Children want to be like others and so, to have that new pair of shoes - and you know its July we're getting ready to go back to school - it doesn't matter what time of year it is those shoes can be life-changing as well life-saving.”

The event lasted until noon, serving as a kick off to Hills Alive.

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