Hundreds of pairs of children’s shoes lined the steps of the Historic Cache County Courthouse on Monday afternoon.
Although the colors and the designs of the shoes were cheerful, from tennis shoes with bright orange laces to sparkly pink flip-flops and Elmo slippers, the shoes carried a more somber message.
Each pair, 420 in total, represented a substantiated case of child abuse in Cache and Rich counties during the past year.
“Four-hundred and twenty pairs this year is 420 pairs too many,” said Esterlee Molyneux, the executive director of The Family Place.
Molyneux’s organization hosted the Steppin’ Up For Kids event on Monday as a way to draw attention to the needs of children in the valley.
Wendi Coombs, director of advancement at The Family Place, said she hoped the visual of the shoes helps community members understand how abuse impacts the children around them.
“I hope that they realize that child abuse doesn’t just happen somewhere else,” Coombs said. “It does happen in our valley.”
According to Coombs, the mission of The Family Place is strengthen families so that child abuse doesn’t happen.
She said there are a variety of ways members of the community can support this mission, from attending classes to volunteering time or donating money or items.
“If you don’t have a lot of money to donate, if you don’t have a lot of time to donate, we all have things we can’t use,” Coombs said. “So you can donate those to Somebody’s Attic and that will benefit The Family Place.”
Another way Coombs said her organization is hoping to lessen abuse is through the Be Kind Utah campaign. The purpose of this event is to document 1 million acts of kindness in the space of 40 days, starting on May 7.
“We are really excited to see the fruits of our labors,” Coombs said. “How it can affect those connections and that resiliency within the place that we live and with the people that we love.”
The shoes used at the event were collected by Miss Cache Valley, Samantha Bell. Bell said the shoes will be donated to the nonprofit organization Souls4Soles.
According to Bell, the shoes she has collected will be provided to unemployed women in Honduras, and the organization will then help them sell the shoes in order provide food and education for their families.