'Boots for Kids' Aims to Give the Gift of Warm Feet to Five Hundred Children in Flint, Lapeer, Port Huron and Saginaw
FLINT -- November 1, 2010 -- Homelessness is on the rise, and with winter on its way, the statistics are chilling. The number of homeless children has climbed to more than 1,500 in Genesee and Saginaw counties alone, and a local nonprofit health plan is asking local communities to help these children stay warm and dry this winter.
From now until the end of January, Health Alliance Plan (HAP) will collect new children's winter boots and distribute them to Carriage Town Ministries of Flint, City Rescue Mission of Saginaw, Love INC of Greater Lapeer and Pathway Shelter of Port Huron.
"'Boots for Kids' is an opportunity to touch lives through a simple act of kindness," said Anita Moliterno, general manager, HAP's East Central regional office in Flint. "Coming from humble beginnings myself, I recall how important it was to receive help in times of need. Now, when I see children trying on their new boots, I see myself through their smiles. It's our way of living HAP's mission to enhance the health and well-being of the lives we touch."
In 2009, with the help of more than 20 community partners, HAP collected 260 pairs of children's boots ($5,000 estimated value). Moliterno anticipates a greater demand for boots this year as homeless rates continue to rise. In Genesee County, for example, homelessness among families increased by 70 percent in 2009, according to Metro Community Development.
With a goal to collect at least 500 pairs of boots -- including larger sizes for teens -- HAP is partnering with local health insurance agents who have volunteered to collect boots at their offices throughout Genesee, Huron, Saginaw and St. Clair counties. Meijer and Walmart stores have also stepped up to support the cause by donating merchandise and cash.
A list of drop-off locations and community partners is available at hap.org/bootsforkids. Or, stop by HAP's Flint office, located at 1397 S. Linden Rd., Ste. C between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday though Friday.
Businesses or individuals interested in becoming Boots for Kids community partners may contact Anita Moliterno at (810) 230-7404.