BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Hundreds of Baltimore students went home with a new pair of shoes Friday, thanks to the CIAA and Samaritan's Feet.
Leaders say the donation is a powerful example of how a caring community can make a positive impact on the lives of students.
For the first time in Baltimore, the CIAA and non-profit organization Samaritan's Feet partnered up to distribute nearly 400 pairs of shoes to students at Harlem Park Elementary/Middle School.
The event coincides with the 2022 CIAA Men's & Women's Basketball Tournament, hosted at Royal Farms Arena. Twelve historically black colleges played in 22 matches over the week.
Bowie State University cheerleaders and athletes spent the day cheering on students as they received their fresh pair of kicks.
"We've been talking to our kids about walking a mile in [the Bowie students'] shoes," said Principal Venus Jackson. Where are they walking to? Our goal is to get them in competitive high schools. So this is excellent."
The school was chosen to participate in the shoe distribution event thanks to an assistant community school director who served with Samaritan's Feet in the past, who decided to reach out to the organization.
"Just having the smile on the kids' faces and leaving an impact on them is very important," said CIAA athlete Bianca Lockamy. "That little bit can go a long way in somebody's life and you never know what it could change."
CIAA and Samaritan's Feet also donated 40 game tickets, $3,000 in gift cards from Academy Sports, and "hope totes" which include hygiene kits and notes of encouragement.
"It feels amazing," said fourth-grader Tajon Bass, "I'm very excited."
But it's much more than just a new pair of shoes and socks, it's about hope and inspiring our future generation.
"We're excited because we know this opportunity - exposure to colleges exposure to professionals that are in the room - that will make them think about what they want to become," Principal Jackson said.
By providing an atmosphere of love and encouragement and new shoes, the goal is to provide students a basic foundation to walk into their destiny.
Bass seems to already be on the right path.
"I want to be a supportive person," Bass said. "I want to travel. I just want to make the world a better place."
Learn more about Samaritan's Feet here.
for more features.