In its ninth year of providing shoes and socks to local children in the winter, the Warm Hearts Warm Toes shoe drive is still going strong with more than 1,000 pairs of shoes donated to help those in need over the years.
Warm Hearts Warm Toes was started by Becca Hattabaugh in 2012 when she was working as a substitute teacher for Brownstown Central schools and saw students wearing flip-flops in the winter.
Because teachers typically have a lot of responsibility taking care of children in their classrooms, Hattabaugh wanted to be able to help with “the small things.” She also understood that some people don’t have the jobs to be able to provide more for their kids.
Hattabaugh’s family purchased shoes and socks for local schools in October each year, and staff from Brownstown Elementary School and Brownstown Central Middle School helped distribute them before winter sets in.
Hattabaugh’s family members who have helped with the project over the years include her mother, Becky Wilson, her daughter, Brooke Hattabaugh, and her son, Brayton Hattabaugh. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, an international Catholic organization that helps the poor, also assists with donations.
Hattabaugh said several organizations and individuals besides the society helped out of this year, including The Peoples Bank, Rhonda Boles, Brownstown Lady Braves volleyball and Mary and Mike Hawkins.
“Children touch everyone’s hearts, and they also represent our future,” Becca Hattabaugh said. “Charity has a vision of kindness, and a simple awareness that supporting our local schools not only helps our children but our teachers, as well. Because we are blessed, why not bless someone else?”
Even though Hattabaugh’s children have been unable to help in recent years, she said Warm Hearts Warm Toes continues to be a success, and she hopes the project can continue for years to come.
This year, socks and shoes were provided to Brownstown Elementary School, Brownstown Central Middle School and Crothersville Community Schools.
Wilson said more than 100 pairs of shoes were provided to those in need this year.
Since the pandemic caused problems with events and planning last year, Hattabaugh said they were able to receive more donations this year.
Marty Young, assistant principal at Brownstown Elementary School, said the kids who receive shoes through the project are always grateful.
“It is a blessing to have Warm Hearts Warm Toes to supply our students with new shoes and socks,” Young said. “This project always comes at a perfect time before winter hits, and the shoes and socks help keep our kids warm. It is pretty special to see the kiddos that receive these blessings be incredibly proud of them as they walk through our hallways.”
Doug McClure, principal of Brownstown Central Middle School, said the Warm Hearts Warm Toes project goes a long way for the kids who receive shoes.
“When I think about the students that this project benefits, I am grateful for the thoughtfulness and compassion of the donors,” McClure said. “We’ve all walked to school on a particularly cold day, or worse, have had to stand at a chilly bus stop waiting as the winter wind whips. To ease even a fraction of the discomfort, especially to the extremities, in those moments is a welcomed relief and comfort. This project does just that for students.”
Seeing school staff help with the project is a highlight for Hattabaugh.
“It’s nice to see the staff smile,” she said. “They look forward to it, and it’s a good feeling. Involving your children in community projects helps them see that kindness truly matters.”