Shoe Drive For School-Aged Students Started By Kaitie’S Closet

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A drive to collect new shoes for needy children by Aug. 31 has been started by Kaitie’s Closet, a not-for-profit group dedicated to clothing school-aged children of Rim Country.

Founder Jack Gooch said he wants to make sure every child who needs new shoes has the opportunity to get a pair.

“Shoes are a big thing going back to school,” he said.

Last month, hundreds of enthusiastic children crowded Julia Randall Elementary School’s cafeteria to pick through piles and racks of freshly laundered used clothing, free for the picking.

Nearly 26 tubs of clothing were given away along with every used pair of shoes. Gooch said Kaitie’s Closet was almost wiped out by the high turnout. This was the third time Gooch and fellow volunteers have held a clothing giveaway.

In June, Gooch along with his wife, Barbara, started Kaitie’s Closet in memory of their granddaughter, Kaitie, who died unexpectedly in October and left behind a closet full of clothing.

Hoping to honor her memory and give back, the Gooches donated Kaitie’s clothes to charity.

Afterward, Gooch said he wanted to continue giving back and so decided to start Kaitie’s Closet, with the goal of clothing in-need children of the area.

“The program just keeps growing,” he said.

Last month, 60 children got new outfits at a giveaway at Frontier Elementary School.

For August, Gooch hopes to collect new shoes, which are a hot commodity for school-aged children. Gooch explained the shoes do not have to be expensive or name brand, but they need to be new.

Donation boxes for shoes and clothing are located throughout town, including at Frontier, Payson and Julia Randall elementary schools, Rim Country Middle School, Alltel, Beeline Business Equipment, Payson Physical Therapy, Scoops Ice Cream and Espresso, Tiny’s Family Restaurant and at the Gooches’ home, located at 304 W. Corral Drive.

Gooch said he is so thankful for the community’s generosity.

“We knew there was a need, but we didn’t realize the outpouring of help we would get from this town,” he said.

For more information, to donate or volunteer, call Jack at (928) 468-1036.

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