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Monday, September 18, 2017

Just A Thought column in La Prensa on Back to School Shoes, 9-17

 Just A Thought: Back to School Shoes Program
by Steve Walker

This past weekend I was privileged and honored to once again cover Adam Rangel’s 19th Annual Back to School Shoes program at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church on Nevada Street for the Walker Report.

I have also covered the worthwhile event at Our Lady of Perpetual Help on Grimes Street a few times as well. The event began at noon and lasted to about 2:30 p.m. Well over100 elementary, middle and a few high school students showed up excited in the knowledge they would leave the church with a brand spanking new pair of shoes to strut around in.

The looks on their faces told the tale. Smiles from ear to ear were everywhere including those who were helping them lace up the shoes. Then there was me the ecstatic photographer who took photos of the happy kids walking down the aisles of shoes looking for just the right pair.

The event was re-scheduled due to Hurricane Harvey. Some students were contacted earlier and came days before the event to Rangel’s office to get fitted since their schools started earlier than others.

Numerous Judges turned out to assist children find shoes that adequately fit them for school. Judges Rogelio Lopez, John Longoria, Walden Shelton whom I taught as a 7th grade student, Genie Wright, Tom Stohlhanske who performed my wedding to Linda, Susan Skinner who attended Roosevelt HS when I taught there, Melissa Skinner, and Crystal Chandler also showed up. In 2015, Judges Rebecca Martinez, Catherine Torres Stahl, Lori Valenzuela and Rosy Alvarado volunteered to help as well.

Many people, including myself have asked Mr. Rangel why he does this every year. Or as I put it, “what drives you to do this?” He shared that he didn’t have his first pair of shoes until he was 11 years old! He informed me that having experienced embarrassment not having his own pair of school shoes, gave him the incentive to help kids who didn’t have shoes either.

Mr. Rangel said he didn’t want young kids to feel embarrassment due to poverty like he experienced growing up in the barrio. He passed on his passion to his three sons Randy, Adam Junior and Ron who is a sitting District Judge. Judge Rangel’s wife, Patsy, actively stands by his side every year as well. Obviously he raised his sons very well. For the yearly event they are always present too, to help distribute shoes to the needy students.

He shared with me that many shoe outlets were receptive to donating new shoes for the students who could not afford them. I asked him “what if you still have shoes leftover when the event is ended?” He told me they were stored for the following year.

As an elementary, middle school and high school teacher in low income districts like Southside, Harlandale, and Southwest, I saw firsthand the disparity in family incomes and the inability of the parents to even purchase a pair of shoes for their children. Mr. Rangel fills that void.

You now see across San Antonio programs to assist students with backpacks, school supplies, clothes and of course shoes. Remember, in Mr. Rangel’s case, he has been supplying student’s shoes for 19 straight years. I have had the extreme fortune to cover those events since 2010. Some of those students coming now are the younger brothers and sisters of those who came before them. Thank God for Adam Rangel and his sons.

In 2010 there was an event that honored “Incredible Dads,” at Absolutely Everything Catering on San Pedro. You guessed it. Mr. Rangel was one of the recipients based on his mission to ensure students have footwear for school. He shared the honors with former Mayor Henry Cisneros, Judge Lawrence Morales and Jerry Olivarri who at the time owned the restaurant.

In all the times I have been around Mr. Rangel, he has been gracious and a gentleman. When I see him at other events and venues he is consistent. The Rangel sons have something to be proud about. He is a role model, a father and a man who sees a need and does his best to ensure he can make it better. I salute you Adam Rangel.

As always, I write “Just a Thought.”

 Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran, former Journalist and Justice of the Peace.

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