Expecting more, making a difference Featured

12:26pm EDT November 28, 2005
The Shoes & Clothes for Kids annual report cover reads, “It’s a wonderful occasion when children learn to tie their shoes. Of course, it’s even more important that they have shoes.”

With Cleveland’s harsh winter weather, it is easy to forget that for some children, clothes and footwear are more of a luxury than a commodity. Shoes & Clothes for Kids works to ensure that children get these necessities so that, as the report says, when they learn to tie their shoes, they actually have a pair of their own to wear, and Vic Gelb is making strides in this effort.

Founded in 1969 when a local businessman realized how many local children lacked quality footwear, Shoes & Clothes for Kids provides brand-new clothing items and shoe gift cards at no cost to families in need throughout Greater Cleveland. With the help of more than 200 volunteers and more than 40 neighborhood distribution partners, Shoes & Clothes for Kids gives away about $200,000 in clothing and $40,000 in Payless ShoeSource gift cards each year to children in need. The program allows children to be properly clothed and fit in at school with their peers, while parents carry one less financial worry.

In five years as chairman of the Shoes & Clothes for Kids board, Gelb has put life back into the organization and propelled it toward a bright future with a more passionate staff and board of trustees, more partnerships with potential shoe and clothing suppliers and more visibility.

Gelb has succeeded in promoting awareness about Shoes & Clothes for Kids among partners, donors and other supporters. He also educates people about the organization so that they can spread the work and educate others.

Gelb also flew to New York City to meet with leaders of Kids in Distressed Situations (KIDS), the partner organization of Shoes & Clothes for Kids, and secured more than $1 million in free clothing a year from Sears. He also worked with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and secured a grant from it to support KIDS.

Gelb has implemented more structure into Shoes & Clothes for Kids by creating a balanced budget, increasing communications and creating excitement in staff and board members. He has overseen growth in fund-raising, partnerships and distributions to the community as well, all of which help strengthen the people of Cleveland.

HOW TO REACH: Shoes and Clothes for Kids, (216) 881-7463 or http://www.sc4k.org