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Needy Newark Students Get Free Sneakers

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Shoes are seen at the Hawthorne Avenue School - Newark, NJ - Feb 10, 2011 - Photo: Levon Putney / WCBS 880

Shoes are seen at the Hawthorne Avenue School – Newark, NJ – Feb 10, 2011 – Photo: Levon Putney / WCBS 880

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NEWARK, NJ (WCBS 880) - Sometimes the simple things in life make a big difference.

WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reports from New Jersey

A Tennessee-based charity has come to help some needy students in Newark, who can’t afford new footwear.

Eigth grader Jameer Montalmen kicked off his old sneakers and put on the new pair as soon as he got them, saying, “I’m really grateful for this day to come and for kids who don’t have a lot of money to get shoes like these.”

Jameer, and 79 of his classmates at the Hawthorne Avenue School, got their new sneakers for free, thanks to Soles4Souls of Old Hickory, TN.

“A new pair of shoes can offer them hope,” said founder Wesley Elsey.

He was joined by Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who said, “… self-esteem is such a critical thing for a young person when they’re growing up.”

Booker says shoes play a big role in boosting a kid’s confidence.

“We all know when we put on a nice pair of shoes, it makes us feel better,” said Booker.

“Shoes make a difference,” said principal H. Grady James.

He says they are teaching, at a young age, “how to be ready for work, by dressing a certain way.”

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