The AFT College Staff Guild Local 1521A has been working with the national Shoes That Fit campaign since last fall to donate shoes to local elementary schools.
The guild represents the clerical and technical unit of the Los Angeles Community College District according to the AFT College Staff Guild Local 1521A website.
The campaign contacted the guild, asking them to be a part of their charity organization that has existed since 1992.
“Velma Butler, president of AFT 1521A Staff Guild, presented the partnership with the Shoes That Fit organization that provides new shoes to low income families within the LAUSD elementary schools,” said Henry Chang, AFT chapter chair, in an email.
Shoe sizes, names, and genders of children in need were provided to staff who then purchased new pairs of shoes to send to the school.
“We didn’t like what we heard,” said Greg Whaling, grievance representative and data communications specialist for the guild, in reference to the list of needy kids that had been provided by Shoes That Fit.
Members were able to choose children to sponsor and, after purchasing the shoes, worked with Butler to package and deliver them to the school.
“It comes out of individual pockets. There’s no other expense,” said Margaret Duncan, AFT member and admissions and records assistant. “The shoes have to be brand new and they have to be athletic-type shoes that they could play, run, and jump in.”
The shoes went to Stanley Mosk Elementary School Thursday, March 13. Though the guild got a late start, not receiving all the information on the students until just before Christmas break, thirty pairs of shoes were compiled and delivered.
Whaling says they will continue to work with Shoes That Fit to get new shoes to children in need.
“We plan to keep on doing it,” he said. “Why would we stop?”
The program may match them up with another school in the area, or they could continue to provide assistance to the same school.
“That was our first effort into it, so hopefully it’ll be a continuing thing,” said Duncan. “I don’t know if we’ll use the same schools. The principal that I delivered the things to kind of said she would like for us to keep their school in mind every year.”
Chang agreed that Shoes That Fit will be an ongoing project for the guild. Blythe Elementary school was also picked for them by the program as a possible recipient for new shoes.
“The AFT 1521A Staff Guild has always been active in supporting our community and plan to continue such programs in the future,” he said.
Members from all nine campuses in the district have taken part, donating more than 400 pairs of shoes since fall, according to Duncan.
“There’s a duty to this, you know, being in the union,” said Whaling. “We reach out as much as possible. We have a civic responsibility. We’re in the community. This is how we help the community.”
For their work with the program, the guild has received an award from the California Federation of Teachers. This award was presented to the AFT 1521A President at a Manhattan Beach Conference last weekend.