A community fund established by area developers recently provided an $8,000 gift to outfit Delaware County students with new school shoes.

A community fund established by area developers recently provided an $8,000 gift to outfit Delaware County students with new school shoes.

People In Need, a nonprofit social services agency which seeks to provide emergency assistance to Delaware County residents, this summer could help an unprecedented number of area students who otherwise wouldn't have new shoes to start the 2008-09 scholastic year.

That's largely thanks to an $8,000 grant provided to PIN by the Polaris Community Fund, a donor-advised fund of the Community Foundation of Delaware County.

"I have another grant coming from the (Delaware County) Rotary and I have churches and individuals who help out quite a bit, but that $8,000 will allow us to purchase 320 pairs of shoes," said Kevin Crowley, PIN executive director.

PIN hopes to provide new school shoes to up to 450 Delaware County students in grades kindergarten through 12. As of last Wednesday, 257 pairs of shoes had been distributed.

"This thing started (six years ago) with just a small grant," Crowley said. "We were only taking care of 35 to 40 kids back then. (It) has grown considerably, and it's thanks to people in the community."

The $8,000 gift was made possible after NP Limited Partnership -- a group consisting of Polaris developers Franz Geiger, Donald Kelley and Robert Weiler Sr. -- last December created the Polaris Community Fund to provide grants to assist area residents.

While NP Limited Partnership pools the funds, the Community Foundation of Delaware County identified PIN's school shoe program as a worthy cause for which to donate.

"We're the researchers and (NP Limited Partnership) are the funders," said Marlene Casini, president of the Community Foundation of Delaware County. "We looked at how we could make a big impact, and the folks at NP Limited are big supporters of kids."

Crowley said more than 85 percent of families in need are working families who don't earn enough to live comfortably and meet all clothing and food needs.

On Aug. 1, PIN began distributing shoes and school supplies to families which made appointments to receive assistance packages. He said the organization will continue attempts to help students and their families through Sept. 1.

"They come in by appointment and just need to bring proof of residency and a picture ID," he said. "There is no income threshold. We're just helping people get off to a good start to the school year.

"We're trying to make it fair and open and take people at their word that they need the help."

Families get a $25 shoe voucher for each child. They can be redeemed at Payless Shoe Stores throughout central Ohio.

"We're going to help until the funds are depleted," Crowley said. "The churches are strapped. Everybody is strapped.

"We're just fortunate to get this type of boon this year."

nellis@thisweeknews.com