Families surprised with boots, hot meal at annual event

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

Detroit — Scores of Detroit area families were fitted with winter boots Saturday at the Toyota Walk in My Boots event at the Salvation Army Conner Creek Corps Community Center.

Samantha Staton, 31, of Detroit, said she was surprised to get a call from the Salvation Army, inviting her to the event. Her daughter, four-year-old Ziann, said she hoped to get a “pink, sparkly” pair.

“It’s not something I’m used to, I’m not used to people caring,” said Staton, who said she lost her job in June but hopes to return to work soon. “It’s been a blessing.”

Toyota donated 200 pairs of boots and socks for the fifth annual event in Detroit. The automaker has similar programs in Chicago and Baltimore. Michael Rouse, Toyota’s vice president of diversity, philanthropy and community affairs, said coats and gloves are often available for the needy, but boots are harder to come by. The company also donated a $15,000 to help with the Salvation Army’s work in Detroit.

“It’s very emotional,” Rouse said after fitting several adults and children with new boots. Toyota donates about $50 million annually nationwide to programs that benefit communities, he added.

Salvation Army Capt. Kelsie Moreno, who overseas the organization’s services on the east side of Detroit, said the neediest families from their social work case files were invited to participate in the event.

In addition to boots and socks, participants received a hot meal of chicken, dressing, cranberries, macaroni and cheese, green beans and salad. Eva Nance, 27, of Detroit enjoyed the meal with her children Breanna, 13, Karriana, 8, Kadar, 5, Derriana, 2, and Derrick, six months.

“I was surprised that they called and said we were able to receive some boots,” Nance said. “Me and all five of my kids. It’s a big help.”