CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A group of Corpus Christi women are working together to make sure children throughout the Coastal Bend are able to have new shoes and other essential clothing items this holiday season.
The self-organized effort comes as a result of Kalen Perez and her friends, Marla Owens and Sherry Culvahouse, who saw a need in their community. The benefit will directly benefit The Purple Door, Circles of Care, The Ark and the local Child Protective Services office.
“It just pulls at our heartstrings,” Perez said. “We know that there’s so many people out there who need it — who need shoes, who need the coats, the pajamas, the jackets — all of that stuff and it just makes us want to help.”
With this shoe drive starting its sixth year, Perez said they since named themselves “Just Us” — the response she has commonly given when dropping off donations.
In previous years, Just Us aims for anywhere from 100 to 150 pairs of shoes. But for 2020, Perez said their goal has increased to the 150-200 range.
“We’re not quite there yet for this year,” Perez said, adding that they’re collecting items from newborns all the way to 18-year-olds. “Our goal is at least 150 new pairs of shoes, just to divvy them up across all the shelters and organizations.”
In addition to footwear, she adds that her group will be accepting coats, socks, diapers and other essential clothing items.
“Because there’s such a need for them,” Perez said. “Every time we dropped off the shoes, they just tell us what they need at the different shelters, and so we’ve always tried to collect as many of those that we can.”
Just Us has also been “sponsoring” children at The Ark Assessment Center & Emergency Shelter for Youth by providing 15 of them with other items, including some toys.
Sister Milagros Tormo, board president of The Ark, said the age range of the children they take care of ranges anywhere from a 6-year-old to a newborn.
“I think it’s a nice day when a child can have new clothes and new shoes for Christmas Day,” Tormo said. “It’s going to make an impact to every child.”
Acts like these simply feel like the right thing to do, Perez said.
“When we take those items to the shelters and to The Ark, and we actually see what they’re going through, and we talk to the people, and we talk to those who are caring for them and running those organizations," she said. "It just brings tears to our eyes every single year.
"And even though we might be exhausted or tired or whatnot — that’s what drives us, is just wanting to help.”
The drive ends Dec. 16. If you would like to donate, those interested can contact Perez at (361) 774-6386 or by email.
Perez said there are also three drop-off locations for donations during normal business hours.
A. Kenney Jewelry
3636 S. Alameda St.
Contact: Ashley Kenney
King High School
5225 Gollihar Rd.
Contact: Susan Grobe
HOLT CAT Corpus Christi
1319 S Padre Island Dr.
Contact: Emily Dodd