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Fifth-grader buys shoes for classmates

PPHOTO PROVIDED Joey Gearhart hands money to a cashier at Dick’s Sporting Goods in State College to purchase shoes for his school.

BELLEFONTE — Joey Gearhart is a pretty special kid.

At a time of year when most children are making Christmas lists and thinking about getting gifts, Joey is giving back.

The fifth-grader recently collected money to buy shoes for his school, Marion-Walker Elementary in Bellefonte. He was able to collect more than $200 from family members, neighbors and friends, he said.

“We just asked and people started giving,” Joey said. “We got enough money to buy 11 pairs of boys’ and girls’ shoes.”

Joey got the inspiration from his father, Adam, who teaches fifth grade at Pleasant Gap Elementary. When Adam received a $100 donation for the school, he went out and purchased shoes that would be kept at the nurse’s office and used when necessary.

“Joey went with me to buy the sneakers,” Adam explained. “I have a connection at Dick’s Sporting Goods and the managers let him in the back storage area. He loved seeing all the shoes back there. On the way home, he asked me, ‘Dad, do you think I could raise money for my school and get shoes for the nurse’s office? There are other kids that could use them too.'”

Joey, a student in Chris Cipro’s class at Marion-Walker, took the idea to school administrators. Marion-Walker principal Karen Krisch loved the idea, she said.

“Joey said, ‘I’d really like to do this, I’d really like to help.’ We talked about it and took it to the (school) nurse and everyone thought it was a great idea,” Krisch said.

Krisch said that schools are often in need of underwear, socks, T-shirts and especially shoes.

“You never know when someone is going to blow out a sneaker or forget a pair of sneakers,” Krisch said. “These will be very helpful.”

Adam said that he wasn’t surprised by his son’s generosity.

“He has always had a good heart. He notices a lot of things around him and has a lot of good ideas,” Adam explained. “We were at a Steelers’ game about a month ago and saw someone give a homeless person a bag of candy. He talked about that for the next few days. He has always looked for ways to help people,” Adam said.

Krisch said that Joey’s effort deserves recognition.

“He really did this all by himself,” Krisch said. “He can be quiet and shy, but this was a wonderful project and he’s really a great kid.”

After collecting the money, Joey went to Dick’s Sporting Goods in State College to make the purchase. Adam said they purchased Dick’s brand — DSG — so they were able to buy more shoes.

“The staff at Dick’s Sporting Goods. They were very helpful and supportive in helping Pleasant Gap and Joey,” Adam said.

The shoes were delivered to the school earlier this week with the help of his Dad, of course.

Adam said that everyone is extremely proud of his efforts.

“His mother, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, principals and friends are all proud of him,” Adam said. “We’ve posted it on social media and he has gotten tons of ‘reactions’ and comments about what a great idea he came up with. He has even been asked to continue and try to get some for another school.”

As it turns out, this week’s shoe delivery may be the first of many.

“It was a lot of fun,” Joey said.

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