As her work as a banking consultant wound down last year, Linda Godbold of Rock Hill felt a burden weighing on her shoulders, like she needed to do something to help people.
So she started researching something she had read about in a magazine -- a nonprofit that gives new shoes to needy young students.
Steppin' High delivered its first batch of shoes to students in Rock Hill and Clover this spring. Now, the organization is raising money to help more students next school year.
"It gives them some pride," Godbold said. "It gives them some self esteem. Some of these kids have never owned a new pair of shoes."
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Godbold and the other members of her group worked with people in Rock Hill and Clover schools to identify the need for new shoes.
What they found was that some chidren wear worn-out shoes, hand-me-down shoes with no socks and occasionally mismatched shoes or even two sandals made for the same foot.
"That's just a basic need," said Luanne Kokolis, an associate superintendent in Rock Hill. "If you're not comfortable, and you're not warm, and you have a pair of shoes on that's causing you pain ... that's going to impact your comfort level and your ability to concentrate."
Steppin' High paired up with Payless ShoeSource to get shoes at a discount. The schools were given shoe sizers to measure the children's feet. After that, the shoes were ordered and dropped off.
Seventy-seven students got either black or white athletic shoes and two pairs of socks. They went to Oakdale and Rosewood elementary schools in Rock Hill and all of the schools with kindergarten through sixth-grade in Clover.
Kokolis said that because the students receiving the shoes were all younger, there weren't many questions asked about where the shoes came from or why certain kids got them.
"More than anything else they were proud," she said. "Some left their old shoes in the nurse's office and never came back for them."
Godbold paid for the first batch of shoes herself. But from now on, the nonprofit will be reliant on donations. The goal is to give out a few hundred pairs of shoes during the 2008-2009 school year.
Even small donations can make a big difference, Godbold said.
"Your feet are your foundation," she said. "If your feet hurt, you hurt all over."