Shoes are essential in one’s journey through life, especially for students. With a pair of good shoes, they will not only be able to fulfill their daily tasks with ease, but it can also inspire them to work hard and take little steps to achieve their dream.
For most students in the city, a school bus or a stroll down the sidewalk are their usual commute. But for students in the province, it is a different story.
Samantha, a student from the Diasan Elementary School, shared the hardships she and her classmates face to reach school.
“Malayo po ang nilalakad namin ng nakapaa. Madulas po ‘pag umuulan at mahirap, maputik ang daan. ‘Yung mga iba po na nakatira sa may bundok, naglalakad po sila ng malayo. (My classmates and I have to walk a long way to get to our school. When the rainy season comes, the slopes become slippery and dangerous which makes it harder for us. The others who live near the mountain walk even farther),” Samantha said.
Diasan Elementary School is tucked in the middle of the Barangay Diasan, a remote farming community in Isabela with over 600 residents. Students like Samantha have to walk an hour or more on rough terrain to get to and from school and are sometimes forced to skip classes if the river is swollen due to heavy rains.
Despite the challenges, one would be surprised at the great lengths they are willing to go to for their education. The simple gift of a new pair of shoes will allow them to walk to and back to school in comfort and safety.
These are the kinds of stories that inspired the SM Store’s Share Shoes program to reach to the community to continue its mission of bringing joy – through the gift of shoes that can help make the journey of the students easier and more comfortable.
Sharing the gift of new shoes
Most students in Diasan have not set foot in a mall before, let alone a shop selling shoes, so as a treat for the kids, employee volunteers from The SM Store, Savemore and SM Foundation transformed one of the classrooms into a shoe store. They assisted the kids in choosing and fitting their very own shoes from the display of clogs, sneakers, sandals, flats and slip-ons donated by The SM Store MLC Shoes and Bags, and SM’s retail affiliates Crocs and Simply Shoes.
The employee and community volunteers also set up a “Feet Washing Corner” before the shoe fitting to impart the importance of taking care of one’s feet. The kids could not hide their joy as they selected and tried on their new footwear.
Apart from receiving new shoes, the kids were treated to fun games and groceries from Savemore. The kids even gamely participated in a Zumba dance number led by The SM Store Cauayan employee volunteers. Wearing their new pairs of shoes, the kids enjoyed the activities knowing their feet were comfortable and secure.
Taking steps to a brighter future
Samantha said that having a pair of shoes is important to protect their feet from injuries.
“Masaya po ako nu’ng nakita ko ‘yung mga kaibigan ko na suot na nila ‘yung sapatos kasi ‘di na sila mahihirapan maglakad ng isang oras papunta ng iskul (I was so happy to see my friends wearing their shoes because now, they won’t have a hard time walking an hour to school),” Samantha said.
Teacher in charge Domenador Mayuyo Jr. shared that for some of the kids, it was their first time to own a pair of shoes, with many of them walking to school wearing slippers or barefoot.
“It’s the first time for some of our students to receive a pair of shoes. Having a new pair of shoes is like a dream come true for them. It is a blessing for them to receive new pair of shoes that they can use to go to school,” Mayuyo said.
Through the gift of new shoes, The SM Store hopes to inspire these kids to take those important steps toward achieving their goals.
Promoting the culture of sharing and purposeful giving
The shoe donation was also accompanied by a medical mission through the partnership of The SM Store with the SM Foundation, Caritas Philippines and the Diocesan Social Action Center of Ilagan. Residents of the community were able to avail of medical and dental consultations, laboratory works, and had X-ray and ECG examinations, and medicines courtesy of the SM Foundation’s Mobile Clinic, all for free.
The activity was a part of the SM Share Movement, a program promoting a culture of sharing and purposeful giving among SM shoppers all year long. Since 2015, the SM Share Movement has collected over 1.3 million donations composed of shoes, clothing, books, school kits, disaster kits and toys.
The SM Store’s Share Shoes program encourages its shoppers to donate brand new and pre-loved footwear not just to help kids walk safely and reach their desired destinations, but to also inspire them to take important steps toward achieving their goals.
“We would like to thank all the shoppers and our partners who donated and participated in The SM Store’s Share Shoes Movement. This wouldn’t be possible without you. Given the rough terrain and the challenges that these students of Diasan face just to get to their school, the new pair of shoes is a great help to them,” said Cielito Velasquez, Assistant Branch Manager of The SM Store Cauayan.
Through the #SMShareMovement Project, the SM Store remains committed to its promise to give back to communities and to be a partner in their development. Through the simple but valuable gift of shoes, they can continue to be a part of Barangay Diasan’s journey as the children take steps toward a brighter future.
Find out more about the #SMShareMovement’s quarterly donation drives and ways to contribute to upcoming projects, by liking The SM Store Facebook page and by following @TheSMStore on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.