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Kids Affected by Sandy Get New Shoes at Payless on 125th Street

By Jeff Mays | November 20, 2012 9:41am

HARLEM — The home Felicia Jack, 23, shares with her family in Canarsie is not in Zone A. That's why she was about to turn in for the night just before Hurricane Sandy's floodwaters burst through her front door.

Almost everything the senior at Kingsborough Community College owns was ruined by water and the unit is now an uninhabitable and moldy mess.

"FEMA came and said it was one of the worst houses they had seen in Canarsie," said Jack, a counselor at Thomas S. Murphy Clubhouse on Bedford Avenue, part of the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club.

"We pulled whatever we could out of the dirt and washed it."

When Payless ShoeSource offered to help club members affected by the storm with $40 worth of new footwear, Antonio Fort Jr., director of clubhouse operations, made sure Jack came along for the trip to the Harlem store Monday night so she could get new shoes.

"Even though she's gone through this adversity, Felicia has remained positive," said Fort. "She's a great role model for the kids."

It wasn't until she had helped select shoes for the club's boys and girls, many of whom were left without power for days by the storm, that Jack finally sat down to try on a pair of red sneakers.

"It's special to me that as hard as the economy is, there are people willing to help," Jack said.

Payless donated $40,000 worth of shoes to three Boys and Girls Clubs in New York and New Jersey to help people affected by the storm.

The excited kids hopped off the bus from Brooklyn at the 125th Street store ready to shop. Some didn't know their shoe sizes, so additional managers from other Payless stores were there to measure their feet.

Nicolette Narine, 9, picked out a pair of white, fur-lined boots to keep her feet warm and dry this winter.

"I used to have a pair of Timberlands but they are getting too small," she said. The texture of her new boot would keep water out.

Fort said the vouchers, which allowed some kids to get two pairs of shoes or one pair of shoes and accessories such as socks, will make a big difference for the kids' families.

"It's one less thing their parents will have to buy," he said.

Stacey Jean-Baptiste, 12, a seventh-grader at Walt Whitman, said the black suede boots she chose match the uniform she wears to school.

"People are going through a bad time since the hurricane. This will help uplift their spirits," she said.

Her friend Keyanna Elrington,12, who lost some items when her basement in Canarsie flooded, agreed.

"People don't have much money now so every bit helps," she said.

For Jack, the new shoes meant more than money.

"You learn who really cares about you when something bad happens and you are in need," she said.