August 26, 2014 at 1:00 am

For Detroit children, getting ready for school includes visit to zoo, new shoes

Jaedyn Jones, 6, of Detroit, reacts to seals inside the polar passage along with his grandmother Pamela Jones at the Detroit Zoo on Tuesday August 26, 2014. (Max Ortiz / The Detroit News)

Royal Oak— Skechers, Meijer and the Detroit Zoo partnered Tuesday to make sure when Detroit Public School students get back to the classroom next week, they will be getting started on the right foot.

About 2,000 students from 15 schools in DPS were presented with a pair of BOBS shoes from Skechers and a Meijer bag full of school supplies during an outing at the Detroit Zoo. Participants were in kindergarten through sixth grade.

Lynn Hempe, Meijer group vice president of apparel and baby center product and development, said the partnership has been in the works since January.

“The children have just been incredibly gracious,” said Hempe. “The thing I’ve found endearing is that I’ve asked a lot of them if they’re looking forward to going back to school. Every single one of them said yes.”

Children and their parents or guardians checked out zoo exhibits and enjoyed a hot dog lunch after getting measured for their shoes. Detroit Tigers mascot Paws and Detroit Lions mascot Roary also were on hand for photos and fun.

“It means a lot. As parents, we’re working hard to provide,” said Detroiter Dorian Dates, who brought her three children — Alea, 11, Mya, 9, and Jonathan, 8 — to the event. “This is a few extra things they would need, and they are getting to have a good time before school starts back up.”

An additional 20,000 pairs of shoes have been donated to DPS for use throughout the year, ensuring students who need them the most will get them.

“I like how they chose students who really need help,” said Nicole Redd, a parent volunteer from Pulaski Elementary-Middle School who came with her children and a group of 30 other students. “A lot of people are struggling to get back-to-school things together, so this is right on time.”

lrazzaq@detroitnews.com
(313) 222-2127

Kayla Berry, 9, of Detroit, shows her new shoes. (Max Ortiz / The Detroit News)