Occasionally, some elementary school students will leave their shoes on the bus. Aside from a mumbled “I dunno” or a shrug of the shoulders, parents have never learned exactly how or why their children’s shoes remain on the bus.

Yet, come Saturday, Nov. 2, organizers of the first “Soles for Catholic Education” walk hope that thousands of students will leave thousands of pairs of gently worn shoes – theirs and those they’ve collected – on the school bus that day.

Each of the 96 elementary schools and 14 high schools in the archdiocese has been provided with a box to fill with shoes. The schools will bring their boxes to the walk and deposit their contents into the GO Riteway bus the company has donated for the occasion.

Catherine Quabius, marketing and communications manager for GO Riteway, said this is the first time it has donated a bus that will be stuffed with shoes.

“This is a full-size, 71 passenger school bus,” she said, adding that she had “no idea” how many pairs of shoes it will hold. “We’re just happy we can help with this event.”

Jenny Moyer, temporary walk coordinator, enlisted the help of three friends – Gerri Schultz, Martha Klinker and Marie Grandelis, members of St. Dominic Parish, Brookfield – to oversee the “stuff the bus” portion of the walk.

For information on the Soles for Catholic Education walk on Saturday, Nov. 2 at Mount Mary University, Milwaukee, visit catholicschoolswalk.org or call (414) 769-3507

Schultz, a self-described “doer,” welcomed the opportunity to volunteer.

“I really believe in the cause,” she said, referring to Catholic education. “I’m a true believer in Catholic education. It can be hard to make it accessible to all. Anyone who wants it should be able to receive it.
Grandelis noted her “overall belief in Catholic education” motivated her to become involved in the walk.

“I’m a product of Catholic education,” she said. “It’s important to see Catholic values instilled in today’s youth.”

In addition to helping Moyer, Klinker was drawn to stuff the bus because of what it adds to the walk.

“It’s a good service component for the walk; the service component is big – it’s a good way for kids to serve others,” she said, noting that the eighth-grade class at St. Dominic School has undertaken it as a service project.

At St. Boniface School, Germantown, the 191 students in grades 4K-8 are practicing what principal Jeff Van Rixel termed the “JOY concept.”

“(It’s putting) Jesus first, others second, and yourself third,” he said in an email to your Catholic Herald.

As of Tuesday, Oct. 15, they had collected more than 600 pairs of shoes.

That collection is part of a three-point approach the school is taking toward the walk. Van Rixel is encouraging 100 percent participation of students in the walk, and hoping to raise the school’s goal of $3,000 for its Angel Fund – the school’s tuition assistance fund.

Shoes collected at the “Soles for Catholic Education” walk will be distributed through the St. Vincent de Paul Society stores and conferences in the 10 counties of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.