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Forest Hills School Collects Nearly 2,000 Pairs of Shoes for Needy Kids

 P.S. 101 collected nearly four times the amount of shoes they had hoped for.
P.S. 101 collected nearly four times the amount of shoes they had hoped for.
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QUEENS — Kids from P.S. 101 in Forest Hills Gardens collected nearly 2,000 shoes for needy children, nearly four times more than the school was hoping to gather during a recent drive.

The initiative was launched in mid May, after the school's students — as part of the Book of the Month program — read “Those Shoes” by Maribeth Boelts, a story about a boy who gave away his shoes to a needy friend.

“We wanted to teach the children about giving back and making a difference in other people’s lives,” said principal Monique Lopez-Paniagua, who last year introduced a curriculum dealing with the social and emotional development of children.

“The goal,” she said, “was to collect 500 pairs of shoes.”

But during a two-week period, the school, attended by about 580 kids from pre-K to sixth grade, collected 1,868 pairs of new or slightly worn shoes, from boots to UGGs to sandals, Lopez-Paniagua said.

“It felt good to give shoes to those who do not have any,” said one fourth grader, Isabella Iljaz.

Another, Christopher Tseng, said: “We can help other kids.”

The shoes were donated to Goodwill, Lopez-Paniagua said.

Earlier this year, the school had to cut the Book of the Month program due to budget constraints, Lopez-Paniagua said. But the school was able to bring it back in May after alumni from the 1968 class donated money to continue the program for additional six months.

The school began organizing a series of charitable drives last year, including for coats and toys.

This year, for Valentine's Day, kids gathered about 100 pajamas that were donated to the Briarwood Family Shelter run by the Salvation Army.

Lopez-Paniagua linked the success of the shoe drive to the book that the kids read, and the fact that children realized that “this is something that [they] can easily be part of.”