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The Boots for Kids Journey
Health Alliance Plan (HAP) opened its East Central
regional ofce in Flint, Michigan in 2008. With roots
dating back to 1960, the nonproft health plan was
already an established community partner in southeast
Michigan that was well-known for its spirit of giving
and unparalleled passion for community causes.
Determined to bring that same sense of community
stewardship to Flint, Saginaw and surrounding
communities, Anita Moliterno and Valerie Welch of
HAP’s East Central regional ofce set out to make a
diference in the health and well-being of the lives of
local children.
From Hand-Me-Downs to Lending a Helping Hand
Winter was on the way, and while there was no shortage of local winter coat and toy
drives, Moliterno and Welch noticed that no one was collecting boots to protect the feet
of local children in need. A boot drive was a natural ft for Moliterno, a Flint native, who
knows frst-hand what’s it’s like to live through Michigan winters without warm boots.
“I remember many a day limping home from school only to run my numbed feet under
cold water to warm them so I could walk without pain,” Moliterno said. “I came from a
family of eleven, so hand-me-down boots were not much better. After four older siblings
wore them, there wasn’t much left to the soles.”
With a little brainstorming and creativity, “Boots for Kids” was born. Moliterno and Welch
began by engaging HAP’s contracted insurance agents to help with the donation and
collection of new children’s boots.
“We gathered ten boxes, donated by U-Haul, wrapped them in Christmas paper, printed some
posters and started collecting boots,” said Moliterno. “Retailers began ofering us discounts on
our purchases and through grant requests; some even donated gift cards. Before we knew it,
we had collected 50 pairs of boots that we distributed to two local shelters.”
“That frst year, the demand for the boots was so high that we quickly ran out of our
supply,” said Moliterno. “It’s just heartbreaking to have to turn down a request like that.
We expected the demand to be even higher the next year – and it was.”
Donations Double in Year Two
With the help of community partners throughout Bay, Genesee, Huron, Lapeer, Saginaw
and St. Clair counties, HAP collected more than 650 pairs of boots ($16,000 estimated
value) in 2010 – more than doubling the number of boots collected during the previous
winter. The boots were distributed them to Carriage Town Ministries of Flint, City Rescue
Mission of Saginaw, Flint Eastside Mission, Good Samaritan Rescue Mission in Bay City,
Love INC of Greater Lapeer and Pathway Shelter in Port Huron.