Yolondo Coleman knew he would receive a fresh new pair of Timberlands boots when he walked inside the gymnasium Wednesday, but he didn’t know the exact color and texture.
When the fifth-grade student at District Heights Elementary opened the box, removed the paper and touched the boot’s brown leather material the same size as his age, he couldn’t stop smiling.
“They feel good. I know some people can’t afford these, so this is cool,” Yolondo, 11, said as he walked and looked down at his new boots. “These will go with my [Halloween] costume. I’m going as a brown dog.”
Yolondo and his 399 classmates each received a free pair of boots in all shapes, sizes and colors donated by Timberland. The shoe company partnered with Soles4Souls and the National Shoe Retailers Association as part of a community service initiative.
Members with the association, a nonprofit organization which represents independent shoe store owners in the United States and Canada, began its annual two-day leadership conference afterward at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor.
According to the Timberland website, estimated prices for youth-size Timberland boots range between $60 and $100. For men’s sizes, none are cheaper than $90.
“Timberland has been doing community service for over 25 years. It’s just part of our core values as a company,” said William Rowley, Timberland’s director of sales. “When you do things like this for kids, it’s a thrill for us.”
Students lined up patiently inside the gymnasium at Forestville High School to wait their turn to sit down and try on their new shoes. A few gazed at them. Some rubbed them.
Smaller children needed some assistance to lace them up, so they received assistance from dozens of volunteers that included Prince George’s County Public Schools interim CEO Monica Goldson.
District Heights Elementary became the school chosen based on free and reduced meals and a Title 1 school, which are designated for children from low-income families.
“Our kids appreciate it and it’s coming at a time right before Christmas,” Goldson said. “This is one less item that parents have to worry about purchasing. It’s a quality shoe that will take them through the winter months and it’s a fashionable shoe, so our kids will enjoy wearing them.”
Each student changed from their shoes, placed them inside a black Timberland bag and sported boots in a variety of colors.
Triniti Johnson, 6, and her other first-grade classmates proudly posed for pictures in their shoes.
“These are cute,” Triniti said as she stared at her lavender boots.
Students and staff are currently housed at the bigger Forestville High School while work to remove mold and other renovations are taken place at District Heights Elementary.
It’s one of the few traditional neighborhood schools in the county where every student walked to school. Now they are bused from District Heights to Forestville.
Not only did students receive boots and some Halloween treats Wednesday, District Heights teachers and staff also got a Dansko gift card.
It’s an added benefit for everyone to walk in new, comfortable shoes inside a bigger building, Latanya Anderson, a second-grade teacher.
“Once we get upstairs, they are going to compare their shoes and just look at them,” said Anderson, who’s taught at District Heights for five years. “Today is just so special. I love being with children and making a difference in their lives.”