Jackson Principal Michele Miller said she couldn’t bear the thought of seven dark libraries next school year. Nor could she imagine losing teachers, school nurses and vice principals.
The outlook at a recent Rescue Union School District board meeting was glum.
“At a minimum $1.4 million (has to be cut) but it could go as high as $2.2 million,” Miller said. “I came out of that meeting thinking ‘How can I generate a lot of money quickly to try and save some of the personnel?”
She paced at home and brainstormed. What did she have to help “heel” the budget’s wounds?
A small room in her apartment filled with shoes provided the answer. Shoestotherescue.com was born.
On the website Miller has put 285 pairs of shoes, sizes 6 1/2 to 7 1/2, up for adoption at $1,000 per pair. Some shoe adoptions include matching accessories and each pair comes with a story of its exploits and an adoption certificate, as well as a heartfelt “thank you” from Miller and everyone else at the Rescue Union School District.
Standing in her shoe room, Miller said she hopes shoe enthusiasts and others who realize the importance of a complete education will support Shoes to the Rescue. Miller has worked for the school district for 19 years, 10 of those as Jackson’s principal, and she said she’s seen cuts before but nothing as drastic as the actions the school board could take if there isn’t some sort of financial intervention.
One pair at a time, Miller’s fundraiser could help. The website features flats, sandals, boots, pumps, platforms, casual, tennis shoes and even a pair of “lucky” flippers. “I’ve only worn them three time and all three times I’ve seen amazing things,” Miller said.
“This is 15 years worth of shoes and there really isn’t a high-end shoe in here,” she continued. She has about 350 pairs, total.
But Miller assures potential adoptive parents that all her shoes “have good luck with them.” No falls, no broken heels, no leaky soles.
Many of her students often check out Miller’s footwear every morning when they come to school, she said. They marvel at her color coordination, artistic designs, heel height and patterns, and why not? “Shoes are a little something you can put on every day and it cheers you up,” Miller said. “It gives you that little bit of sunshine.”
Now Miller hopes her sunny enthusiasm gets people “pumped” about the idea of helping the school district, which serves about 4,000 students. She said she plans to keep the website up for about a month and see where things go. Her efforts have already earned national attention; her story has appeared on numerous websites around the country.
The fundraiser will also create a lot of empty space in Miller’s shoe room. After organizing, photographing and writing biographies for each pair an exhausted Miller said, “I’m not quite sure I’m going to replace them that quickly.”