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Our Mission

First Day Shoe Fund is dedicated to providing new athletic shoes to elementary students in need at Kalamazoo County public schools. We believe all children should start school on equal footing.

about us

First Day Shoe Fund (FDSF) is a local, grassroots initiative whose mission is to provide a unique service to children in the Kalamazoo area by distributing new shoes throughout the school year.  Founder Valerie Denghel realized this need through her volunteer work in Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS). Since many families were unable to purchase new shoes, Valerie noticed students were wearing shoes that were the incorrect size, tattered, or worn. First Day Shoe Fund believes that every child should start school on equal footing, and distributes a new pair of properly fitting athletic shoes to any student in need. The goal is to help these students succeed both in and out of the classroom.

Who Is Eligible For New Shoes?

Students in Pre-K through 5th grade at any Kalamazoo County public elementary school. 

our team

Leatrice Fullerton

Board President, Program

About Leatrice

Lynn
Chio

Board Member,
Fund Development

About Lynn

Surangi
Pradhan

Board Member,
HR Chair

About Surangi

Doug
Pearce

Vice President,
Fund Development Chair

About Doug
Picture of Jason Heystek

Jason
Heystek

Board Member,
HR

About Jason

Josie
Richards

Board Member, PR/Marketing

About Josie

Christa
Molter

Secretary, PR/Marketing Chair

About Christa

Stacy
Jackson

Board Member,
Program Chair

About Stacy

Tim
Rayman

Board Member,
Finance

About Tim

Allison Birmingham

Treasurer, Finance Chair

About Allison

Lynn
Kelly-Albertson

Board Member,
HR

About Lynn

Andrea Macklin

Executive
Director

About Andrea

Christopher Moffat

Board Member, HR

About Christopher

Our History

In 2004, Valerie Denghel was volunteering in the Kalamazoo Public Schools Woods Lake Elementary when she encountered students on a daily basis who didn’t have proper shoes for school. And so it began.

First there was one pair of shoes. And then another. And then yet another until the basement of her home was filled with new shoes for students. Since there was no sign of the need diminishing, First Day Shoe Fund was born.

Since incorporating in 2006, First Day Shoe Fund has been providing new athletic shoes to preK- 5 students in Kalamazoo County schools through several distribution events. 

With the cooperation of Kalamazoo Communities in Schools, local public school districts faculty, staff and administration, and the overwhelming support of countless community organizations and volunteers, First Day Shoe Fund has grown from a grassroots initiative into a strong, local non-profit.

Not only do new athletic shoes foster self-esteem in students, thereby improving their school performance; these shoes also allow students to participate in healthy activities both in and out of school. 

WANT TO MAKE A GIFT TO FIRST DAY SHOE FUND?