NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — When things like housing are too much to afford, even smaller expenses like shoes are out of reach, especially for families experiencing homelessness.

It’s a reality for thousands in Middle Tennessee.

“We’ve really come to understand that so many people don’t understand what is happening in our country with children who lack adequate housing or who are homeless at all,” said Tiffany Turner, Vice President of Outreach, Soles 4 Souls.

The trickle-down effect impacts nearly every aspect of their lives, which leaves many needs unmet.

“Even if a child is housed, even if they’re in a shelter, or they’re living three to four in an apartment, inadequate housing, insufficient housing affects every part of their life, their attendance, their focus,” said Turner.

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Turner and the organization Soles 4 Souls works to address at least one aspect of the problem by offering shoes to students in need.

“One of the top three items they always need are shoes. Think about it, shoes are expensive. So even if you’re buying for your family, that’s just a challenge. So to have these donated or purchased for a school district where they might have 500 to 600 or more students who are identified, that’s a huge part of their funding that would go away.” She continued, “We’re really helping to provide for a critical need and helping them save funding that can go towards other resources.”

The problem has become worse with inflation as parents struggle to cover things like rent, food, gas.

Sole 4 Souls plans on putting shoes on the feet of more than 2,000 students this fall alone.

One of their top priorities is giving kids high-quality shoes they want and make them feel equal to their peers.

For Turner, she has had her shoe on the other foot. And for her, helping these kids is personal.

“There’s a layer of empathy there that’s hard to just imagine. And I had some struggles as a young child, and I remember people who invested in my life and gave me things that I not only needed but that I wanted. And sometimes you see yourself in those kids and you just see that joy. And it’s just unbelievable; it’s immeasurable, to see the look on their face and the way they run and jump or just their body language when it happens,” she said.

If you’d like to donate shoes or other clothing items click on this link for information.

News 2 investigates why the number of children classified as homeless is rising in our area and what’s being done to help them in our special reports – “Homeless Children”.