If The Shoe Fits: Beardsley Participates In National Shoe Fundraiser

Friday February 2, 2024

A local junior high school is making sure students have all the gear they need for the classroom, and you can help.

Beardsley Junior High School in Oildale serves more than 380 seventh and eighth graders, many of whom lack necessary items like shoes, clothing, hygiene products and more.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the school created a “Comfort Cave,” a room filled with basic necessities donated by the community. Students can come and pick out whatever items they need for free. Since the pandemic, the need is greater than ever before.

Melany Ledesma in Beardsley’s Comfort Cave.

Now, Beardsley is teaming up with Shoes That Fit, a national nonprofit campaign dedicated to providing new shoes for children so they can attend school with dignity and joy, prepared to learn.  

The nonprofit says shoes are so often overlooked, and yet a new pair of shoes is shown to increase physical activity, boost self-esteem and confidence, and improve behavior.

Melany Ledesma, a social worker at Beardsley Junior High School, is leading the effort with help from a team of school staff. She says the school is eager to meet everyone’s basic needs.

“It’s beyond As, Bs and Cs, we’re really supporting the whole child,” she said. “If their basic needs are not met, they’re not able to perform in the classroom.”

Photo courtesy: Shoes That Fit

The school set the goal at $4,500, which would purchase 150 pairs of shoes for the students who need them most.

“Our numbers are rising and it’s really neat to see,” Ledesma said. “We see the gap. And [Shoes That Fit] is allowing us to bridge that and meet their needs.”

Once the fundraiser is finished, Ledesma and her team will get the sizes from the students and Shoes That Fit will ship them out.

Photo courtesy: Shoes That Fit

Meantime, the Comfort Cave is still open for all students and the staff is always on the lookout for donations of clothing, shoes, backpacks, school items and personal care products.

Ledesma says there is a real need for support in the community, not just for students but for parents as well. 

“I understand it can be difficult, and more so these days. I always let the parents know we’re here to help and it’s okay,” she said.

She says the students are grateful to have a place to come and pick out what they need, without shame. 

“I get so much joy being able to provide for these kids, it makes me so happy,”  Ledesma said. 

The Shoes That Fit campaign runs through the end of March. You can contribute by visiting their website here.

By Katie Avery

By Katie Avery

Katie Avery joined the Kern County Superintendent of Schools in 2023 as a Communications Specialist. As a former journalist and marketing professional, her passions include media and storytelling. Before joining KCSOS, Avery worked for various local TV stations as well as the health care industry.