CLEWISTON, FL.- U.S. Sugar and its employees partnered with the Healthier Hendry Glades Task Force to provide new shoes for 600 local students through Laces of Love.
As part of its annual Health Fair activities, U.S. Sugar hosted a contest in which the company would match employees’ donations of new shoes. Over several weeks, employees of U.S. Sugar, Southern Gardens Citrus and South Central Florida Express donated 300 pairs of new shoes. To match that, U.S. Sugar bought another 300 pairs from Hibbett Sports.
The 600 pairs of new shoes will be distributed to students at 13 schools throughout Hendry and Glades counties. The company also partnered with area school nurses to provide specific shoes for special needs children.
“The health and well-being of the students in our community is important to all of us,” said U.S. Sugar President and CEO Robert H. Buker, Jr. “The Laces of Love shoe drive was a way for our company to match the generosity of the people of U.S. Sugar and give back to the community.”
“These shoes go a long ways toward helping our students come to school ready and eager to learn,’’ said Glades County School District Superintendent Scott Bass. “For many of our families and students, a new pair of shoes can make a huge difference.’’
Hendry County School District Superintendent Paul Puletti said the donations help boost students’ self-esteem, allowing them to better focus on their education.
“No student should have to go school in shoes that are old and worn or don’t fit,’’ Puletti said. “Many of our children wear shoes that have been passed down from a sibling or a cousin. This gives them a chance to have a new pair of their own that they picked out.’’
U.S. Sugar’s Laces of Love project was managed by Carl Stringer, vice president of information technology and employee benefits, and his team. According to Stringer, the employees had donated more than 200 pairs by the time the drive ended just before the holidays, but several employees asked for more time to try and reach 250 pairs.
“Over the holidays, we really hit the ground running (pun intended),” Stringer said. “It’s amazing. By last week, 300 pairs of shoes had been collected, and the company provided an equal match allowing us to reach 600 students who need shoes for school.”