For students at Wheeler Elementary in south Oklahoma City, Thursday's shoe giveaway couldn't have come at a better time.
Nearly all of the school's 500 students receive free or reduced-cost meals because they live below the poverty line. New sneakers are a luxury most Wheeler parents can't afford.
“Some of these kids, this is the only pair of new shoes they get,” said Briana Brzezinski, a second-grade teacher at the school. “This is like Christmas Day for them.”
Students — some wearing shoes with holes or shoes that didn't fit — lined up by grade to have their feet properly measured before picking from four styles of sneaker.
Daphne Davis, 7, decided on a black pair with purple laces and piping.
“I'm going to wear them to school because I want everybody to see how pretty they are,” she gushed.
MetroShoe Warehouse of Oklahoma City and Norman donated the shoes. About two dozen employees volunteered their time to assist students with their selections.
The shoe retailer has donated 2,500 pairs of sneakers at five Oklahoma City elementary schools in the past year.
Zac Webb, the company's chief operating officer, said the goal is to fit each child with a pair of sneakers that will last them one year until the next giveaway.
“This way, they'll have new shoes throughout their elementary school years,” he said.
First-grader Ricardo Leyva beamed as he opened up his box of new black sneakers.
“New shoes make me happy,” he said.