Arlington Police, Foundation Team Up to Provide Shoes to Hundreds of Lynn Hale Elementary Students
By Tim Ciesco, Arlington Police Department
Posted on January 22, 2020, January 22, 2020

 

Four years ago, the staff at Lynn Hale Elementary had a meeting with Arlington Police to see if officers could help address a safety concern they had. They didn’t know it at the time, but they had just laid the foundation for a unique and long-lasting partnership that continues to this day.

Specifically, they were worried about their students who had to cross a pedestrian bridge on Sherry Street to get home from school each day. They’d received reports of bullying and fights taking place near the bridge. And the area was littered with graffiti.

“So I told them we will partner with you guys and help you out with that,” said Sergeant Robert Walsh.

Now, every afternoon, officers post up near the bridge, meet the kids, and walk with them across it to ensure they get home safely.

As the years have gone by – and the officers have gotten to know the kids on a personal level – the “Bridge Kids” program has evolved into something more.

“It gave us an opportunity to learn a lot about ourselves,” said Walsh. “And it also gave us an opportunity to develop relationships.”

It’s because of those relationships that Walsh and another sergeant, Ja’Nae Powell-McGee, first became aware that several of those kids were coming to school with old, worn-down shoes. And it’s because of those relationships, they felt compelled to do something.

“We love them,” said Powell-McGee. “We care about them. We spend time with them on purpose.”

The two of them got with the Arlington Police Foundation, a non-profit that provides support to APD and its efforts – and together, they hatched a plan to provide every kid at Lynn Hale with a pair of new shoes.

“The thought of elementary aged kids needing shoes was just a little more than I could handle,” said Georgie Zang, an Arlington Police Foundation Board Member. “And the thought that these officers had taken such care and gotten so connected to these kids was very inspiring.”

Using the foundation’s connections, which resulted in very generous donations from VANS shoes and an anonymous donor, they were able to secure more than 200 pairs of new shoes, hats, socks, and other swag for the students, who received the items during a surprise school assembly. Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams, Police Chief Will Johnson, and Arlington ISD Superintendent Dr. Marcelo Cavazos were among the leaders who handed the shoeboxes to the kids.

“I thought, oh my goodness, I’m so grateful for this,” said Destinee, a 5th grade student at Lynn Hale. “Not that many people are fortunate enough to have this experience. And it’s just awesome.”

“They’re really good,” said Oliver, another 5th grader at Lynn Hale. “And I really like them.”

Clutching their shoeboxes, the kids left school that day with something even greater.

“I’m just in awe,” said Natasha Harris, Principal at Lynn Hale Elementary. “It shows kids that wow, they believe in me. That I can truly can do whatever it is that I set out to do in my life. That I can show kindness. That I can show love. That I can be positive.”

“At the end of the day, that’s our future,” said Powell-McGee. “And you pour into people what you get out of them.”

Using the foundation’s connections, which resulted in very generous donations from VANS shoes and an anonymous donor, they were able to secure more than 200 pairs of new shoes, hats, socks, and other swag for the students, who received the items during a surprise school assembly.

Kindness Initiative, Acts of Kindness, Support Youth & Families, Arlington ISD
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