McCandless couple's charity helps out 'Just for Kicks'
Even Mary and Joseph Fricker get a kick out of sneakers.
The McCandless couple's charity, Just for Kicks, has provided more than 1,000 first-graders in Pittsburgh public and parochial schools with new Converse tennis shoes during the last six years.
“My husband and I do it jointly,” she said, “but it's kind of my baby.”
For her efforts, the retired West Mifflin Area School District first-grade teacher was named an Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Western Pennsylvania Chapter during its annual celebration of National Philanthropy Day in November.
“Some kids never had a new pair of shoes,” Mary Fricker said. “It's just like Christmas.”
She shops for shoes all year long, looking for sales and discounts and spending $25 to $35 per pair. She wants fun colors and interesting patterns.
After Easter, she begins research to find elementary schools with a high number of students in the free-lunch program. When she discovers the perfect school, she contacts the principal.
“One thought it was a hoax when he got the letter,” she said.
Now, she sends a list of school names to document her past efforts. So far, 19 schools have gotten visits from the “Tennis Shoe Lady.”
After the children have measured their feet and submitted their shoe sizes, the couple selects the boxes for delivery. Fricker has joined her husband on many of those visits.
“It makes the kids so happy and makes me so happy,” she said.
One girl, “a feminist in the first grade,” asked for boys shoes the next time.
Mary Fricker often receives cards, notes, pictures of the shoes and posters from the children. The last class said, “Thank you,” in French.
When Marcia Wallender, senior director of philanthropy at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, Mary Fricker's alma mater, learned about the project, she decided to nominate Fricker for the Association of Fundraising Professionals' award.
“She has such an amazing heart,” Wallender said.
“She shared her story with me, and there was such joy in her face and passion, it struck a chord with me.”
The couple also has set up a nursing scholarship at the university.
“She is one of our alumni who embrace and embody the philanthropic spirit,” Wallender said.
At the banquet, Fricker shared her “Just for Kicks” story in three minutes. Her friends and family were there for her salute. Her story will continue as long as her husband can get the shoes there, she said.
“We enjoy it. The kids like it. It's a win-win,” she said.
Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Despite challenges, farms in North Hills are growing
- Shaler Area High School students tour Japan
- Kids’ artwork wanted for North Hills Community Outreach calendar
- North Hills Christian Church helps get children excited about school
- Photo gallery: Elderly, disabled visit North Park nature center
- Garden idea takes root in Ross
- Hampton landlords required to register apartments
- Franklin Park woman honored by Lupus Foundation
- NA grad formulates bath, beauty products with natural ingredients
- Move in age group nets dividends for Franklin Park tennis player
- Storytelling festival events set for 2 Hampton sites