PHOTO GALLERY – Children at summer day camp receive free shoes and other goodies at awards ceremony – Port Arthur News

About 30 students at Sam Houston Elementary School received free shoes on Thursday, but they spent the summer working for them.

The gift was part of the awards ceremony to close the final day of the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club summer day camp.

“All of our kids have been in the Mile Club program,” said acting director Royce Watson. “The Mile Club program started because in Jefferson County the leading cause of death is high blood pressure, heart disease and other preventable illnesses. So we started the Mile Club program so that our students are active early, so that they become active adults.

Summer camp participants walked every day throughout the summer.

“When they get the shoes, they walked a mile or more to get them,” Watson said.

The Southeast Texas Foundation donated the shoes. Other giveaways included fans and snacks from Entergy, funds from Hancock Whitney for the program’s community garden, and a donation from Triangle Community Outreach.

The summer program, which took place at Houston Elementary School, began June 6 and ended Thursday after an awards ceremony. This year registration was $25, Watson said, but they are working to have all tuition paid next year.

“Everything went really well,” said fire chief Greg Benson, who oversees the board. “There were a good number of children and a constant participation. It’s making a point and giving the kids what they need.

The participants, who all attend elementary school in Houston, spent the summer gardening, exercising and using the program’s new playroom, among other activities.

In the fall, the Boys and Girls Club will resume its after-school program, which serves school children from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. for $1 a day.

Jack C. Nugent