Grove City Record

Easing their journey

Girl's birthday wish for shoes benefits shelter

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CHRIS PARKER/THISWEEKNEWS
Colleen Nicholson and her daughter, Alaina, deliver shoes to the YWCA Family Center Friday afternoon, March 21. Alaina collected shoes in conjunction with her birthday celebration March 12 and donated them to the center.

Alaina Nicholson had a simple wish as she celebrated her seventh birthday March 12.

All she wanted was a pair of shoes.

She ended up getting 30 pairs.

But the shoes weren't for her.

Alaina, inspired by the Disney Channel's "Make Your Mark" series of public service announcements, decided she wanted to collect shoes and donate them to the YWCA Family Center in Columbus.

"I saw the commercial and it inspires kids to do good things for other people," said Alaina, a Grove City resident who attends Columbus Preparatory Academy.

"So I started thinking, if there's a thorn on the ground and some kid didn't have any shoes, they could step on it and hurt their feet," she said. "That's how I got the idea of asking for shoes for my birthday."

"She started talking about this last summer," said Colleen Nicholson, Alaina's mother. "I thought she would forget about it, but when she didn't, I thought, well, let's help her make this happen."

Alaina collected most of the shoes from family and friends.

"If you came to my party, I asked you to bring at least one pair of shoes," she said. "About half of my family came to the party, and they all brought shoes."

Donations included shoes for girls, boys and adults.

The Nicholsons delivered the shoes Friday, March 21, to the YWCA Family Center, located on Harvey Court in northeast Columbus.

The center is the only homeless shelter for families in central Ohio, YWCA spokeswoman Christine Bryant said.

"We rely heavily on donations from the public," Bryant said. "Our facility is built to serve 50 families, with an average family size of three. Right now we're serving 100 families. We've been in overflow for quite some time."

The center has a particular need for baby supplies, including wipes, sippie cups, bottles and baby oil, she said.

On average, families stay at the center for about three weeks, Bryant said.

The center provides child-care services so parents can spend the day looking for work and stable housing, she said.

Bus service to central Ohio school districts also is provided, but typically about half of the youngsters staying at the center are under the age of 5, Bryant said.

Shoes are an especially acute need for the center's clients, she said.

"A lot of the children don't have shoes that fit, because they are growing, or their shoes are old and worn out," Bryant said.

"It's amazing to see someone as young (as Alaina) showing compassion and concern for others," she said.

More information about the family center and how to donate is available at ywcacolumbus.org, Bryant said.

"I felt really good" when she and her mother delivered the shoes, Alaina said.

"This made my birthday even more special," she said.

Asked whether she would plan another charitable project for her eighth birthday, Alaina replied, "Sure. Maybe next year I'll get shoes and cans of food, too."

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