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DU QUOIN — In August 2017, Shoe Sensation provided new shoes and socks to around 300 children, but Store Manager Sara Zaricor decided they could do more this year. They will give shoes to more than 400 children during a private event Aug. 19.

“We have an issue right here in Southern Illinois. There is a lot of poverty in the area. We definitely need all the support we can get,” Zaricor said.

Zaricor, a foster mom, understands the difficulty some families have supplying the essentials for school. She also believes she can act as the hands and feet of Jesus through this effort.

With a fundraising goal of $25,000, Zaracor and her staff, along with Perry-Jackson Child Advocacy Center, organized a pie-in-the-face fundraiser for Saturday.

They recruited seven volunteer pie receivers: Du Quoin City Clerk Andrew Croessman, Commissioner Michael Ward, Du Quoin District 300 Superintendent Gary Kelly, Mayor Guy Alongi, Police Chief Les Vancil, Illinois State Trooper Howard Baxter, and Perry County Sheriff Steve Bareis.

The pies consisted of whipped cream on Styrofoam plates. Miss Perry County Teen Aubry Lemmons was in charge of making the pies.

The goal for the volunteers was to raise the most money for bragging rights. During the event, Baxter and Kelly were very popular. However, Vancil raised the most money.

Baxter’s son Connor was happy to hit his dad in the face with a “pie.”

“I haven’t signed your blue slip yet,” Baxter reminded the 15-year-old.

Ashley Ward also took the opportunity to hit her dad with a pie, but she could not talk Michael Ward’s granddaughters into throwing their pies. She did the throwing for them.

Eight-year-old Cayden Lamczik also passed on the opportunity to throw a pie until some late additions were made to the pie receiver roster. He was willing to throw a pie at his buddy Zaricor. Zaricor joined the pie party at the request of Shoe Sensation employee Charity Spencer.

The seven original pie volunteers noticed how clean Lemmons was, they began to tease her about taking a pie. She finally agreed to take a pie from each of them, if they donated $50 each. They finally raised the $350 required and suggested Aubry’s mom Jennifer stand in for her.

They both were good sports. Aubry and her mom donned ponchos like the rest of the pie receivers and took seven pies. (The now pie-throwing volunteers took care to protect Aubry’s crown from the whipped cream.)

Aubry said she was happy to take pies in her face to raise money for the children. She has chosen Perry-Jackson Child Advocacy Center and their as her platform. The center provides timely, comprehensive, multidisciplinary response to child sexual abuse and serious physical abuse allegations in a safe, neutral, child-focused setting.

Executive Director Betti Mucha said all 35 of the center’s clients will receive shoes. While the center provides some clothing for school, they never have enough money for shoes.

“I think it makes them start their year off positively,” Mucha said recalling her own memories of back-to-school shoe shopping.

Shoe Sensation is working with the Clothes Closet to provide clothing, too. Children who have vouchers will get their shoes at an event Aug. 19 that will include clowns, games, and free haircuts. Children from Ava to Coulterville have signed up.

“The outreach from the community, businesses and local churches around us is just amazing,” Zaricor said.

There is still time to donate. Drop off donations at Shoe Sensation (next to Save-A-Lot) in the Southtowne Shopping Center in Du Quoin.

For more information, contact the store at 618-790-9128.

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Marilyn Halstead is a reporter covering Williamson County.

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