Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Walk In Beauty - Spring 2011

by Cindy Cook and Ray Coleman

It was a beautiful April day – just perfect for a drive to the reservation.  As we prepared for our spring delivery of Walk In Beauty shoes, we smudged ourselves and the truck with sage and asked to be blessed with safe travels.

For a couple of weeks we had been collecting the shoes our volunteer buyers had purchased.  Each pair had been selected and tagged for a specific child.  The orders were re-checked and now the back of the truck was filled with 28 big blue IKEA bags overflowing with new shoes.

The sight of us visiting schools with bags full of shoes reminded at least one young child of Christmas.  A 2nd grade boy from Pinon Elementary exclaimed, “Thank you Santa!” as he ran out of the room with his new shoes. 
A small inventory of shoes that had built up was also loaded in the truck.  This allowed us to meet emergency needs for 11 children who had transferred in to various schools after those schools had submitted their shoe orders.

We can’t begin to fully express our gratitude to those who support this program.  The generosity of those who donate to Walk In Beauty permitted us to deliver over 300 pairs of shoes to children in need at our participating schools.  In addition, funds were sufficient to add two more schools.

Stopping at Tsaile Public School to assess their interest in Walk In Beauty, we were surprised to find everyone outside.  A fire alarm had gone off requiring a complete evacuation.  They were waiting for engineers from Chinle to arrive to verify it was safe to reenter the building.  We found the school’s Parent Coordinator, Josephine Yellow, in the parking lot where we told her about Walk In Beauty and signed Tsaile up to receive shoes in the fall.  Chinle Boarding School will also be added to the fall delivery.

An objective of Walk In Beauty is to service school-aged children in areas of the reservation where ANE has food runs.  Meeting this objective can be challenging as it requires us to criss-cross the entire reservation to make deliveries – which we try to accomplish in a one week period.

Further complicating the delivery process are weather and road conditions.  Springtime often brings unsettled weather.  Such was the case during this trip.  We experienced wind and sand storms and a bit of snow.
In addition to delivering shoes, donations allow us to provide socks.  While trying shoes on the children, some are embarrassed at the condition of their socks and ask us not to look.  Others are uncomfortable because they have no socks to wear.  It is heartening to tell them not to worry as we pull out a fresh pair of new socks to put on their feet.

We are grateful to those who volunteer their time to purchase and prepare the shoes.  We may begin calling them our Hunting and Gathering team as they hunt from store to store for the correct sizes and colors of shoes at the best prices.  They then gather them all together and spend a considerable amount of time cutting off tags, removing stuffing materials, lacing them up and tagging them.  Our thanks to Janet Dalton, Anna Law, Jessie Bigelow, Jackie Boyd, Isabelle Kalantzes and Summer Campbell-Kelsch for purchasing shoes for the spring delivery.

Expressions of gratitude for the program are received in numerous ways.  We saw it in the broad smiles of the children.
The basketball coach and Special Education teacher at Little Singer gave us t-shirts.  One was their prized 2011 basketball championship t-shirt.  This tiny school had taken the district championship for varsity and junior varsity for both boys and girls teams.
Kindergarten children from Sanders Elementary squealed with delight when their teacher said, “Remember when we measured you for shoes?  Well, your shoes are here.” 
At Canyon de Chelly Elementary we were greeted with a huge Welcome sign made by some of the students.
Other children express their feelings in thank-you notes.  A 4th grade boy attending Little Singer wrote, “Thank you for buying me new shoes.  I will wear them to school.  I hope they don’t cost too much.  Again, thank you.” 
At Kayenta, a 2nd grade boy had the most pleased look on his face as he said, “These are awesome.  My feet feel soooooo good.”  My Mom wanted me to have new shoes.  She’s going to be so surprised.”
What a blessing it is to be part of a program that puts shoes on the feet of our Elders' future.

Questions about Walk In Beauty?  E-mail us at

For more photos of the spring delivery visit our Picasa photo album.


  1. I love seeing all of the smiling faces of the children! Thanks for sharng!

  2. What a wonderful story. Its so nice to see these precious children with big smiles on their face. ANE you are such a blessing.

  3. Oh, this made my cry! The part about the children and thier socks did it. Wonderful to see the smiles on their faces, their body language, they change when they put on their 'magical' shoes. It is like they put on the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz and it completely changes them. Thank you for this information. The weather looks challenging.