RED BANK: FREE SHOES. NO STRINGS.

rbpms-walk-zoneDo you walk to school or take the bus? Doesn’t matter. Any child who lives in Red Bank is eligible for a free pair of shoes from Doc Shoppe owner Dean Ross, below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

dean ross 030714Here’s an offer you don’t see every day: free shoes for kids.

Dean Ross, owner of the Doc Shoppe on Broad Street, is planning to give away hundreds of pairs of shoes to Red Bank children later this month.

Why? Because kids need them, he’s got them, and he wants to help parents in a town he loves.

“This is where I went to school,” says the alumnus of the Mechanic Street School, the River Street School and the old Red Bank High School (’69).

When Ross moved his store from Fair Haven to Red Bank earlier this year, he found himself with hundreds of pairs of children’s shoes that he didn’t have a place for in the new shop, he told redbankgreen Tuesday morning. He considered selling them to a broker, but having seen economically disadvantaged kids in town with holes in their shoes, he thought it “made more sense” to give them away.

“I’m part of the community,” he said. “I want to contribute.”

No other purchase is required. “There are no strings,” Ross said.

These are brand-new shoes, not sneakers, Ross said. “The kids can wear them to school, or they can wear them to church or whatever,” he said.

They’re not the Dr. Martens brand that gives the store its name – the company doesn’t make them for little kids, he said. But they are popular brands: Willits, Hush Puppies and more.

New borough schools Superintendent Jared Rumage said Ross made the offer to borough primary school principal Luigi Laugelli “out of the blue”  on Monday. Rumage said he planned to stop in at the Doc Shoppe to thank Ross on Tuesday.

A flyer announcing the giveaway will be included in the package of notices sent home with each child in the borough district’s two schools on Friday, Rumage said.

Ross said the only limit on the offer is that a child be from Red Bank. The student’s age and school don’t matter. “No one will be disappointed,” he said.

Shoes will be given away on September 21 and September 28 at Doc Shoppe, at 43 Broad Street. Proof of residency is required; a utility bill or piece of addressed mail is sufficient.

Ross says his employees have volunteered to donate their time to the effort before the store’s normal Sunday opening of noon. He’s also looking for some school volunteers to help control the flow of customers, so that only a handful are inside the store getting fitted at a time.

A Spanish translator might also come in handy, he said.