On Thursday, November 21st, Direct Energy, with media partners Dayton Daily News and WHIO-TV, honored the 2nd annual Dayton Volunteer Citizen of the Year award winner, Kris Horlacher. Kris is the founder of Shoes 4 the Shoeless, a nonprofit that provides new, properly fitting gym shoes, socks, and underwear to local children in need.
Kris started out as a nurse who ran a mentoring program for underprivileged children in the Dayton area. But it wasn’t until three years into her program that she noticed something that changed her life: many of the children she was mentoring had tattered, ill-fitting shoes and socks. Even worse, some of those children didn’t have shoes or socks at all. From that moment, she knew she had to do something and soon after, she founded Shoes 4 the Shoeless in January of 2010.
Since then, Kris and her team of volunteers have given more than 17,000 children new and properly-fitting shoes, socks and underwear that they wouldn’t otherwise have. Kris volunteers full-time going into Dayton schools to fit children for their shoes and socks, free of charge and without ever asking for anything in return.
Kris’ goal has always been to be help children in need, but she also wants to teach those same children the importance of giving back. In doing so, she created a new initiative that stems from Shoes 4 the Shoeless called “Kindness Matters.” Many times, the children that she helps are so inspired to help others but don’t have the means to do so. “Kindness Matters” provides Shoes 4 the Shoeless children supplies to create homemade cards that are delivered to patients at the Children’s Hospital of Dayton, wishing them well and brightening their days.
By winning the Dayton Volunteer Citizen of the Year award program, Kris will receive a $1,000 cash prize and a $5,000 donation to Shoes 4 the Shoeless from Direct Energy. The donation will be used to purchase enough new shoes and socks for 500 Dayton-area children.
Photo: 2013 Dayton VCOY Winner (From left: Kris Horlacher, 2013 Dayton Volunteer Citizen of the Year & Tom Prisk, Commercial Manager for Direct Energy)