Elgin Elks join with Elgin's First Baptist Church for 'Step It Up' program
Elgin Elks Lodge 737 is partnering with Elgin's First Baptist Church in the "Step It Up" program.
The program has given out almost 10,000 pairs of new shoes in the past 11 years. It helps children preschool to 12th grade in Elgin and surrounding communities.
It was started as Rebecca Huguley, director of the Step It Up, was challenged to look around and see the needs in her community. She spoke with a local teacher and members of the First Baptist Church regarding the need for shoes.
The teacher said: "Definitely, there was a need as she saw children wear shoes they had outgrown, hand-me-downs that did not fit, worn-out shoes, etc."
They collected shoes and set them out like a shoe store in the First Baptist Church fellowship hall. They advertised at three local schools but did not know if anyone would show up. That morning, there was a line longer than the church driveway. Every child received a new pair of shoes -- 403 children!
Since then it has grown. The program usually gives out over 1,000 pairs each year.
The church has partnered with the Elgin Elks Lodge 737. Area churches help collect shoes. Businesses donate money. Shoe Carnival in South Elgin gives discounts to the program and also donates socks. Culvers has donated food for the volunteers.
The Elgin police help the children pick out their shoes. The Elgin Fire Department has brought out a fire truck.
Highland Elementary sends teachers and administrators to help.
The committee that works on collection and organization for shoes does so for months before the event. Plus, over 100 people volunteer on distribution day. Some of the volunteers have been involved all 11 years. It has truly become a community event!
This is the Elks fifth year of working with the First Baptist Church. The Elgin Elks are able to purchase shoes with grant money from the Elks National Foundation. The Elks can't just provide shoes but must provide Elks members and helpers to set up and work on distribution day Aug. 3. The Elgin lodge has help from the Illinois State Elks Association, the first vice president and his wife, as well as the district sponsor, many members from the lodge, and several other lodges in the North District. What a great feeling you have on the day of distribution to see the smiles on the children faces.
The Elks National Foundation Community Investment Program has invested 13.7 million in Elks communities across the country through Lodge grants that help Elks meet local needs.
"Distribution Day" will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3. The event will be held at the First Baptist Church, 1735 W. Highland Ave. in Elgin. If a child needs a pair of shoes no questions are asked. Numbers are given out starting at 6 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, for the time slots. Children must be present and with an adult.
Elroy the Elk, the mascot for the Elks Drug Awareness Program, will be on hand.