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News from 2022-2023

Posted: March 9, 2023

La Mesa Students Get Shoes Courtesy of FedEx

Partnership one of many the school has formed to ensure the needs of its students are being met

FedEx employees provide shoes to La Mesa Elementary students.

FedEx employees provide shoes to La Mesa Elementary students.

The pint-sized students lined up in La Mesa Elementary School’s gymnasium on Tuesday morning, taking a turn at having their feet measured on a shoe sizing guide affixed to the gym floor.

A boy takes in the mountain of shoes piled atop three tables beneath a basketball hoop. He zeroes in on a red pair, passing over the black, neon green, blue and gray shoes that are also available in his size.

Nearby, a FedEx employee helps another student.

“Walk around, see how they feel,” the FedEx worker tells the little girl after tying the laces of her brand-new pink shoes.

Another little girl avails herself of the opportunity to slide around, the temptation of socks on a gym floor too great to pass up.

It’s just another day at La Mesa Elementary, a community school in the International District where staff members team up with community partners and organizations like FedEx to ensure that the needs of their students are being met.

On this particular day, FedEx employees clad in purple T-shirts emblazoned with the words FedEx Cares, are providing about 240 new pairs of shoes to La Mesa’s Pre-K to second-grade students.

“Having good shoes, it gives kids confidence out there,” says Joseph Perez, a FedEx manager who on this day is playing the role of shoe store worker for the steady stream of children coming through the gym doors.

“It shows that FedEx is out here in the community, not just delivering packages, but we’re also helping the children have a good start to their day, having a nice pair of shoes,” he adds. “It feels good when you go to school, or it feels good just playing outside knowing that you have a nice pair of shoes on.” Perez notes that the shoe giveaway is part of the company’s effort to promote healthy habits and being active.

Anne Garcia, a counselor at La Mesa, is grateful to FedEx and Operation Warm for teaming up to provide the shoes to her students.  

“It really brings up their self-esteem,” she says. “It brings up attendance and it brings up their academic progress. They feel cared for and loved.”

For Erica Apodaca, La Mesa’s community school coordinator, assistance like the free shoes for students is essential. Many of the families the school serves are struggling to make ends meet with the rising costs for everything from groceries to rent.  

As a community school, La Mesa tries to meet those needs through such services as a clothing bank and an emergency food pantry. Most of that assistance comes from the community. The school also strives to engage families through La Mesa Diner, a monthly event where the school hosts families for dinner and a hands-on activity.

“Community schools work because we are responsive to the needs of families,” Apodaca says. “We partner with our families, asking them what they need and then work to meet those needs. We give them a hand up rather than a handout.”