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Kids less fortunate slip into the new year and new shoes

Needy families get new shoes for Christmas through the Little Feet program. (WPEC)

A second Christmas for some children not as fortunate as others, thanks to the St. Lucie County Fire District's Little Feet program.

For the last ten years, they collect money. And at the beginning of the New Year they select needy kids in the community to give new shoes to.

It all started when Fred Barbera said he was doing a show-and-tell for a daycare about fire safety when he saw one of the kids with a split shoe and a hole in their sock. He said he immediately bought the child a new shoe and that's how Little Feet began.

"That’s what we do. We help people by trade," said Barbera, now a veteran of the fire department since 1997.

Friday, dozens of kids came in to the Hibbett Sports in Fort Pierce to get their free shoes. Mark Peterson and his 12-year-old son were among the many families who received new shoes.

As he walked in the store he said, "Isn't this exciting, son? We're getting shoes today!" This gesture is something that meant the world to the Peterson's. "Clothing and shoes we usually get from Mustard Seed or something like that," said Peterson. He added, "all the shoes he has right now are all hand-me-downs and they’re all in various stages of falling apart and being glued together. This would be the first brand new pair of shoes he’s had in a little while."

Peterson said his wife works part-time and he's on disability so times are tough but Friday, all they had were smiles. "He’s my heart. He keeps me going. Don’t you, boy? I love you," said Peterson.

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