Shoe Program Hopes to Expand to Columbia

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MOBERLY - Most people go to the hospital in order to receive help. But Donnie and Cindy Bonuchi saw an opportunity to help others while waiting in a hospital.

"We were actually sitting at one of the hospitals in Columbia and we were waiting to be waited on and we happened to see this family walk in. They walked in and had several children with them and we happened to look down and saw the kids didn't hardly have any shoes on. They had all mismatched shoes," Donnie Bonuchi said.

After that encounter, the Bonuchi's wanted to help, and began Shoes from the Heart. The program provides shoes to kids in need at Head Start in four counties. Shoes from the Heart began by giving 65 pairs of shoes to the Macon County Head Start. This year, the program expects to provide 1500-2000 pairs of shoes.

One of the locations Shoes from the Heart expanded to is the Moberly Head Start. Tammy McNeely, the center manager, said the kids are always excited to get new shoes.

"They all say they can run fast now. So that's a good thing for them. It raises their self-esteem and physically helps them, you know, as they're learning to walk and run and do all those things," McNeely said.

Now, Shoes from the Heart hopes to expand to Columbia.

"We've actually had some people of interest talk to us about moving to Columbia. Some different parents and different things like that. They see us at the hospital and everything and are like, 'We would really like for you guys to get into Columbia.'"

Bonuchi emphasized the amount of money it takes to move into a new area.

"We're just looking for that grassroots in order to lay down in Columbia so we can get a foundation so we can get fundraising, because it takes a lot of money to raise money for the kids," Bonuchi said.

Bonuchi said if Shoes for the Heart could just help one Head Start in Columbia, it would be great.