Sharing shoes with a community

Manila Standard – Many of the children and families in the small town of Diasan in Echague, Isabela never had the chance to step foot in a mall due to the long distance, steep terrains, and rough roads one needs to pass through to get into the main city. 

ALL SMILES. Employee volunteers help the ‘little shoppers’ from Diasan, Isabela choose their preferred footwear at a makeshift store mounted for the Share Shoes program of The SM Store. Away from the busy city life, families in this area, of about 600 residents, live a life of simplicity and rely on agricultural resources as their means of livelihood. But through The SM Store’s Share Shoes program, 140 children beneficiaries had the chance to experience shoe shopping—just like inside a real department store.

“We are here to show the residents that while they may be far from the city, they are never forgotten by SM; that is why we are bringing Share Shoes here,” said The SM Store Cauayan assistant branch manager Cielito Velasquez.

The Share Shoes program is part of the SM Share Movement campaign, one of the ways that SM and its customers team up to support and donate to little communities like Barangay Diasan. 

Through the help of employee volunteers, the classroom of Diasan Elementary School was transformed into a shoe store. Volunteers assembled shoe racks and filled the room with various shoe styles: sneakers, clogs, flats, and slip-ons. 

And just like real shoppers, kids were assisted by employee volunteers as they happily looked around, tried out shoes, and chose their preferred shoe styles.  

Employee volunteers also taught the kids about proper hygiene; they washed their feet with soap and water before putting on their new footwear.

According to Father Carlito Sarte, social action director of the Diocesan Social Action Center of Ilagan, the shoes will benefit many children who walk barefoot on rough roads for at least one hour every day just to go to school.

“We appreciate that despite the long-distance travel ay nagpunta ang SM dito para makapagbahagi sa mga kababayan natin.Dito, pumapasok ang mga estudyante nang nakapaa (We appreciate that SM went here despite the long-distance travel to provide shoes to the children. Most of the students in Diasan attend school barefoot), and this is their first time to get shoes so we really appreciate that there are partners like SM,” enthused Sarte. 

Diasan Elementary School head teacher Domenador Mayuyo Jr. expressed optimism that the new shoes will serve as inspiration for children to go to school every day. 

“Yung mga bata kasi hindi naman nakakabili ng sapatos. Ngayon, meron na silang pagkakataon makapagsuot ng shoes para ma-encourage sila na pumasok sa school araw-araw (The children here have no means to buy shoes, but now that they have, these could encourage them to go to school everyday),” he said.

Aside from new shoes, kids were also treated to fun games, exciting prizes, and grocery items courtesy of SM Savemore.

Further, The SM Store also partnered with SM Foundation, Caritas Philippines, and DSAC to lead medical mission for the whole community. 

Families of Barangay Diasan had free access to medical and dental consultations, laboratory tests, X-rays, and ECG exams through the aid of SM’s mobile clinic.  Most of the little children and elderly were also given free medicines.