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Happy Feet Equals Learning Feet, Inc. (Happy Feet) was created in 2009 by Jerry Baird, a retired coal miner from Union County. His goal was to remove one of the stumbling blocks to optimum school performance for the students of Union County. Not having basic personal items can distract a child from performing well in school. A new pair of shoes can help build self-esteem and reduce teasing and bullying. Through Happy Feet we attempt to improve a child’s perspective about attending school by providing them with a quality pair of athletic shoes. A “Happy Student” becomes a “Better Learner,” thus the name “Happy Feet Equals Learning Feet.”
Since its creation in 2009 the Happy Feet program has grown rapidly. We are now incorporated and 501c3. The corporation includes Ballard, Boyle/Danville, Butler, Caldwell, Crittenden, Fayette, Fulton, Graves, Henderson, Hopkins Co./Dawson Springs, Lincoln, Livingston, Lyon, Marion, McCracken, Muhlenberg, Union, and Webster counties. We also have programs in Logan County/Russellville, who operate independently. The program provided shoes for 450 students our first year, 700 the second year, and grow to 5,162 students in 2019. We have distributed 2080 pairs of shoes in 2020. This number is below normal due to Covid-19 Pandemic and schools closed to “in-person” learning. We are hopeful that 2021 will soon be back to normal and we will be able to serve children with a record setting year. As of December 31, 2020 a total of 34,266 children have received a new pair of athletic shoes since inception of this program. The Happy Feet program has been expanded through the efforts of volunteers in each of the counties served. They are responsible for coordinating and fundraising efforts in their areas using individual and business donations, yard sales, bake sales, raffles, and other activities as sources of funding. Several programs have been successful in procuring grants for their programs. The Happy Feet program has established an accounting system to maintain separate accounts for each of the counties. This assists with tracking both the funds raised by each county and the purchases of shoes for students in that area. Funds raised in your area will help provide the less fortunate children of your community with one more tool to help them succeed in school.
As the program continues to expand, we are becoming aware of different ways to identify where the need lies. In some counties, students are chosen with input from the Family Resource/Youth Service Center Coordinators, principals, teachers, and guidance counselors at their respective schools. Shoes are provided throughout the year as determined by the local committees. The start of school and Christmas are the primary times when shoes are distributed and some locations provide shoes for graduation programs. Funding is also available to provide shoes in emergency situations. The Happy Feet program is utilizing several methods to promote the program including this website, newspaper articles, radio coverage, brochures, t-shirts, decals, and a Facebook page. For more information and updates about the program you are invited to join the program’s main Facebook page (Happy Feet Equals Learning Feet.) Several of the counties have their own local Happy Feet page as well.
Jerry Baird Founder (270) 952-2006 firstname.lastname@example.org