Lake Forest Elementary School students were all smiles as they saw the shoes received as gifts on May 5. (Photos by Bob Pepalis)

Every student at Lake Forest Elementary School received a gift of tennis shoes on Friday thanks to Mount Vernon School sophomore Collin Maher, who organized a 5K race fundraiser to buy them.

“I don’t even think he [Maher] realizes the scale and the depth of what this means for the children, and what it’s meant to this community,” Lake Forest Principal Laryn Nelson said.

Some of the students had their feet properly measured for the first time because of this event, she said. Some have been wearing shoes that are too small, and many haven’t had new shoes recently.

Students were all smiles after receiving a gift of a new pair of tennis shoes Friday afternoon.

With this gift of shoes their parents don’t have to suffer or strain their income to buy their children a new pair of shoes, Nelson said.

“This is a gift, no strings attached, just pure joy. Pure joy,” Nelson said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Maher and fellow Mount Vernon School students helped hand out the shoes to each student, with teachers arranging to pick up shoes for any student who was absent.

Students gave Maher handmade cards and posters, with some sharing hugs in thanks of the gift.

“It was just so heartwarming. It was awesome man… That’s what I worked for,” he said.

He promised a repeat of the Cocoa Classic 5K. This year’s event was held on Feb. 18 with the start and finish at Mount Vernon School. It was Maher’s Eagle Scout project.

Collin Maher, left, receives thanks from students who received shoes as a result of his efforts.
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Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.