Free shoes and school supplies for families at back to school drive

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(ABC 6 News) – Back-to-school shopping just got a lot easier for parents in Forest City thanks to a back-to-school drive by the YMCA and United Way.

“These are our kids and we want them all to succeed,” said Jen Arends, the CEO of the United Way of North Central Iowa.

This is the third year the United Way is hosting a kid’s shoe drive. This year in Forest City it ran alongside the YMCA’s annual back-to-school supply drive.

“We’re at the Y here tonight, and they’ve got school supplies and we’re getting athletic shoes so kids can participate in gym and in sports, and really have the best school experience that they can,” said Arends.

Everything is completely free for families who attend.

“It does help a lot. We’re very thankful for it,” said Amanda Haugen, parent to a 12-year-old and a three-year-old.

Over 150 people showed up just during the first half of the event. The United Way is expecting to give out at least 200 pairs of shoes.

“I think a really good message to these kids is that everybody cares about them, you know? We want them to go to school with the things that they need and we’re here as a community to do that,” said Arends.

While the United Way requires parents to bring their kids and have them try on the shoes before they can take them, parents can grab what they need as far as coats and school supplies from the YMCA.

The YMCA will be donating any leftover supplies to teachers at local schools.

“We all have the same goal, is serving people, and that’s all we’re trying to do here tonight,” said Arends.

The United Way will have one more shoe drive on August 10 at the Community Health Center in Mason City from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.