West End Elementary students get free shoes

By Nicole Daughhetee

Courier Staff

COUNTY — Approximately 245 pairs of fresh-out-of-the-box New Balance shoes were distributed to students at Easley’s West End Elementary Monday morning thanks to the Mission Action Challenge (MAC) program, a joint venture between a pair of Easley churches.

This year, approximately 460 area children have received shoes courtesy of the MAC Ride and Run, Easley First Baptist Church, 5 Point Church and Fleet Feet Sports in Greenville. In total, more than 1,500 pairs of shoes have been distributed since the event’s inception.

East End Elementary was the first recipient of MAC shoes five years ago, and since that time, the group has shoed students at McKissick, Ambler and Simpson Academy.

The Mission Action Challenge originated in 2008, when a group of cyclists raised more than $5,000 for Hope Unlimited. The event was so-named in honor of Mac Lawton, a community leader, founder of the 567 Club for Boys, and recipient of the Order of the Silver Crescent, South Carolina’s highest honor for outstanding achievements and community contributions.

Lawton lost his battle with prostate cancer in January of this year.

Owen Robertson, the shoe distribution organizer for FBC of Easley, said that the long-range plan of the MAC is to be able to provide shoes to every elementary school student in Pickens County.

Held in August of 2012 in downtown Easley, the annual MAC Ride and Run raised more than $17,000. A portion of the funds were donated to Hope Unlimited, a missions organization committed to the physical, educational, and spiritual needs of Brazil’s street children.

With approximately 750 students, West End is one of the largest elementary schools in Pickens County. Because of the school’s size, only a portion of the students received shoes this past fall following the MAC cycling and running event in August.

“New Balance cut us such a great deal that we were able to give out the rest of the shoes now instead of having to wait until next fall to distribute them,” said Robertson.

Fleet Feet Shoes in Greenville worked with the students at West End to size their feet and take orders. Students were able to choose the colors of the shoes they received.

Julie Rivers, one of MAC’s volunteers, has attended several shoe distribution events throughout Pickens County and said she has seen, first-hand, the positive impact this program has in the lives of children.

“Having new shoes and shoes that fit helps students feel better about themselves,” she said.

The 2013 Mission Action Challenge is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 24, and will once again include cycling events and a popular 5K run through downtown Easley. For sponsorship information, please call (864) 859-4052. Anyone interested in knowing more about the event may visit