BANGOR, Maine — For more than a decade, a program at Saint Paul the Apostle Parish in Bangor has helped kids in Greater Bangor get a new set of shoes when they need it most.
Susan Snow, a longtime parishioner at Saint Mary's Church in Bangor, began the “My New Shoes” program back in 2009. According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, she got the idea after a friend told her about a teacher who bought sneakers for a student after seeing the soles of his shoes flapping in the rain as he walked.
Donations of socks, shoes, and cash are being accepted at six parishes in Greater Bangor until Sunday, Oct. 2.
- St. John Church, Bangor
- St. Mary Church, Bangor
- St. Joseph Church, Brewer
- St. Teresa Church, Brewer
- St. Matthew Church, Hampden
- St. Gabriel Church, Winterport
From there, the shoes and socks are brought to schools in the area to be distributed to kids with shoes that are falling apart or are too small. Volunteers of the program connect with area elementary and middle schools to provide the donations to kids in need.
During the beginning of the program, the shoes and socks were only distributed to Bangor and Brewer schools, but because of the generosity of yearly donors, the program has grown to include Baileyville, Carmel, Eddington, Glenburn, Hampden, Hermon, Holden, Indian Island, Kingman, Levant, Old Town, Orrington, and Winterport.
Joel Bradgon, a physical education teacher at Down East Elementary School in Bangor, provides about 50 pairs of shoes to his students every year.
“I really feel like when a student has a new pair of shoes, they stand taller. It helps their self-esteem," he said. "They feel good about themselves. I think there is a reason the bottom of your shoe is called your sole, so I think it is really important for these kids to have those new shoes.”