COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — There is no better way to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. than by giving back to families in need.

One thousand pairs of shoes were given to Columbus children for free thanks to a partnership between a former Ohio State University athlete and a nonprofit organization.

Emma Goldean, a standout field hockey player, just graduated from OSU. Instead of using her name, image, and likeness to make money for herself, Goldean decided she wanted to make a difference in her community by signing up with Samaritan’s Feet, an organization that gives children in need free shoes.

“You don’t even think about that as someone like me who has been given gear at Ohio State, who has grown up with shoes on their feet,” Goldean said. “Something you think is so simple, just being able to give that, a basic need, is amazing.”

Each child got a pair of sneakers, socks, and a hygiene kit at the shoe distribution Monday on MLK Day. Children at Columbus elementary schools in low-income neighborhoods were able to sign up, and the joy they got from their new kicks was palpable.

“They are pink and black, and I really like them because they are going to be good to run in,” said first-grader Julia Morrison on her new shoes.           

There were dozens of volunteers at the shoe distribution, spending their day off bringing happiness to children.

Hanna Killeen helped the kids pick out their perfect sneakers.

“It’s so fun to see when they finally get their pair of shoes on, the kids running around, jumping up and down, and their parents or just adults being really thankful that they finally have a new pair of shoes,” she said.

Goldean hopes everyone who volunteered realizes what an impact they have made on their community. Shoes are so simple, but everyone needs them.

“Not a lot of people think about shoes and what a basic need in the community is shoes and socks,” Goldean said. “Not a lot of kids have those or they do and they have holes in them. They aren’t easy to run around in and play at recess.”

Goldean may not be an Ohio State athlete anymore, but she said Monday’s event won’t be her last shoe distribution. She wants to continue to give back to this community.