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Anne’s Smiles give kids more than just a pair of shoes

Anne’s Smiles - Backpack and supplies

With a name like Anne’s Smiles, it’s hard not to root for the mission of the organization and it’s
founder Marisha Eveland.

Anne’s Smiles
Marisha Eveland with her Grandmother, Anne.

Anne’s Smiles was started in 2021 and is named after Marisha’s grandmother, Anne, who was known for her large smile and her laugh. From that inspiration, with a surprise gift from her husband, the non-profit organization was born.

“She was a fantastic lady, and she had a wonderful smile,” she said. “I would always tell my husband about her laugh and her smile and for Christmas one year he set up the non-profit for me and named it after her. It was a big surprise and a wonderful gift that continues to give.”
Anne’s Smiles has received two grants through PCCF, one to partially fund their shoe and clothing program for 2023-2024 and another to fund a program to help kids get the glasses they need.

“Anne’s Smiles mission and programming are centered around upholding the dignity of the children of Pickaway County while meeting their physical needs,” Alexis Conrad, PCCF executive director, said. “The Foundation is proud to have such an organization in our community. Hearing their story in our county and understanding how our donors’ dollars impact our community is why we are passionate about our work.” Grants, like the ones received by Anne’s Smiles, are provided through the Community Impact Fund.

“This is the heart of the mission of the Foundation. Organizations like Anne’s Smiles make an
important contribution to our community far beyond a new pair of shoes or glasses, they are
improving the well-being of children across the county,” Conrad said. As a council member of her church, Trinity Lutheran Church, Marisha and other leaders were called to try to make a greater impact in the community, which is how Anne’s Smiles was born.

Anne’s Smiles thank you note
A note sent to Anne’s Smiles from Westfall Elementary School

“I went on Facebook and asked what needs in the community were not being met,” Marisha said.
“I have a lot of friends who are teachers and they messaged me saying the students needed shoes.
I couldn’t believe it and thought, that is an issue we could fix.”

Anne’s Smiles has a simple mission, to “provide comfort and dignity to children in need who believe they are forgotten and for whom the world has been unfair, sharing with the world the joy missed in Anne’s smiles.”

In the three years of Anne’s Smiles, they have done just that. The first school year, from February to May, they filled 41 requests for pairs of shoes.

“We figured out really quickly that the need is there, and the teachers know what they’re talking
about, so we continued the program,” she said.

Flash forward to this past school year where they filled requests for 181 pairs of shoes. Marisha
works with each of Pickaway County’s schools to provide for the children at all levels of
schooling. They don’t take any requests from parents only the school which helps to ensure the
students that need the items are receiving them.

Anne’s Smiles broken shoe
A student’s shoes that were replaced by Anne’s Smiles

“The schools have said that we’re really the only resource for this and there’s not any other resources out there,” Marisha said. “They might be able to fill out an application and go through
a long process, but we can fill a need right away. It’s wonderful we’re able to do that.”

Last year Anne’s Smiles helped 269 children with various needs from emergency clothing, shoes, backpacks, hygiene bags, and puberty kits.

“We asked the school administrators if there was anything else they needed and they said the kids need socks and then later the nurses asked for puberty kits for the fifth graders and also for
hygiene kits for students,” she said. “They then saw some kids coming in with the same clothes
every day and asked if we could help.”

In 2023, Anne’s Smiles started a new program, Visions of Hope, which was funded by a PCCF grant. The program works with local vision centers to help get students the glasses and prescriptions they need to them perform better in the classroom and have better quality of life.

“It’s an evolving program,” she said. “We’ve given out a lot of certificates but having parents redeem them has been a struggle so far.” In recent months, Anne’s Smiles has been fulfilling clothing requests, including providing more than 480 pairs of underwear to students.

Anne’s Smiles provides name brand products to avoid stigma and make the kids receiving them
feel loved, supported, and appreciated.

“We buy name brand, good quality shoes because we realize this could be their first pair of new shoes,” she said. “We want them to fit in with everyone else, we don’t want them to feel singled out. We’ve heard things like poverty packs and buying in bulk, we don’t. Each shoe is hand- picked for that student. We try to pick shoes they’ll absolutely love. Our main mission is to make sure they feel loved. Most of the shoes we purchase are Nike. We realize it’s a really, really big deal. Staff have shared students walk down the halls and other students will say things to them in a positive way. Even if that’s just for one day the students getting to feel that way is worth it. We hear from nurses that after getting the new shoes they have more confidence. It’s not just about the shoes but how it makes them feel.”

For Marisha, hearing back from the schools has been a delight, especially to hear the impact of the program.

With a name like Anne’s Smiles, it’s hard not to root for the mission of the organization and it’s founder Marisha Eveland. 

Anne’s Smiles was started in 2021 and is named after Marisha’s grandmother, Anne, who was known for her large smile and her laugh. From that inspiration, with a surprise gift from her husband, the non-profit organization was born.

“She was a fantastic lady, and she had a wonderful smile,” she said. “I would always tell my husband about her laugh and her smile and for Christmas one year he set up the non-profit for me and named it after her. It was a big surprise and a wonderful gift that continues to give.” 

Anne’s Smiles has received two grants through PCCF, one to partially fund their shoe and clothing program for 2023-2024 and another to fund a program to help kids get the glasses they need. 

“Anne’s Smiles mission and programming are centered around upholding the dignity of the children of Pickaway County while meeting their physical needs,” Alexis Conrad, PCCF executive director, said. “The Foundation is proud to have such an organization in our community. Hearing their story in our county and understanding how our donors’ dollars impact our community is why we are passionate about our work.” 

Grants, like the ones received by Anne’s Smiles, are provided through the Community Impact Fund. 

“This is the heart of the mission of the Foundation. Organizations like Anne’s Smiles make an important contribution to our community far beyond a new pair of shoes or glasses, they are improving the well-being of children across the county,” Conrad said.

As a council member of her church, Trinity Lutheran Church, Marisha and other leaders were called to try to make a greater impact in the community, which is how Anne’s Smiles was born.

“I went on Facebook and asked what needs in the community were not being met,” Marisha said. “I have a lot of friends who are teachers and they messaged me saying the students needed shoes. I couldn’t believe it and thought, that is an issue we could fix.”

Anne’s Smiles has a simple mission, to “provide comfort and dignity to children in need who believe they are forgotten and for whom the world has been unfair, sharing with the world the joy missed in Anne’s smiles.” 

In the three years of Anne’s Smiles, they have done just that. The first school year, from February to May, they filled 41 requests for pairs of shoes. 

“We figured out really quickly that the need is there, and the teachers know what they’re talking about, so we continued the program,” she said. 

Flash forward to this past school year where they filled requests for 181 pairs of shoes. Marisha works with each of Pickaway County’s schools to provide for the children at all levels of schooling. They don’t take any requests from parents only the school which helps to ensure the students that need the items are receiving them. 

“The schools have said that we’re really the only resource for this and there’s not any other resources out there,” Marisha said. “They might be able to fill out an application and go through a long process, but we can fill a need right away. It’s wonderful we’re able to do that.” 

Last year Anne’s Smiles helped 269 children with various needs from emergency clothing, shoes, backpacks, hygiene bags, and puberty kits. 

“We asked the school administrators if there was anything else they needed and they said the kids need socks and then later the nurses asked for puberty kits for the fifth graders and also for hygiene kits for students,” she said. “They then saw some kids coming in with the same clothes every day and asked if we could help.”

In 2023, Anne’s Smiles started a new program, Visions of Hope, which was funded by a PCCF grant. The program works with local vision centers to help get students the glasses and prescriptions they need to them perform better in the classroom and have better quality of life. 

“It’s an evolving program,” she said. “We’ve given out a lot of certificates but having parents redeem them has been a struggle so far.” 

In recent months, Anne’s Smiles has been fulfilling clothing requests, including providing more than 480 pairs of underwear to students.

Anne’s Smiles provides name brand products to avoid stigma and make the kids receiving them feel loved, supported, and appreciated. 

“We buy name brand, good quality shoes because we realize this could be their first pair of new shoes,” she said. “We want them to fit in with everyone else, we don’t want them to feel singled out. We’ve heard things like poverty packs and buying in bulk, we don’t. Each shoe is hand-picked for that student. We try to pick shoes they’ll absolutely love. Our main mission is to make sure they feel loved. Most of the shoes we purchase are Nike. We realize it’s a really, really big deal. Staff have shared students walk down the halls and other students will say things to them in a positive way. Even if that’s just for one day 

the students getting to feel that way is worth it. We hear from nurses that after getting the new shoes they have more confidence. It’s not just about the shoes but how it makes them feel.”

For Marisha, hearing back from the schools has been a delight, especially to hear the impact of the program. 

“We feel so blessed we are able to help the students and though we do not meet the students, we can tell by the thank you notes how much a new pair of shoes and socks means to many of them,” Marisha said. 

The responses are enough to brighten anyone’s day. 

“Her reaction alone was enough to put a smile on everyone’s face for the remainder of the year,” one school staff member wrote in a thank you note about a student who was helped. “The shoes, bookbag, and hygiene products are so appreciated, and she is excited to have something of her own.” 

Another school social worker wrote “I can’t count the number of smiles you have brought to our all of our kids and myself. Handing a child a new pair of shoes is one of the most rewarding things I get to do as a social worker.” 

Marisha also spoke about the school staff and how much they all work to help make sure students’ needs are met. 

“There’s a lot that goes on at the school that people don’t know about,” she said. “Some of the students keep their shoes at the school because of their situations at home. They get to keep the items we deliver to them, it’s theirs and it doesn’t get taken away. It’s fantastic that the schools do such a good job with the students and caring for them in that and many other ways.” 

Looking ahead, Marisha said they want to continue to build and strengthen their relationships with school administrators to help as many students as possible.

“We hope we can better communicate what we can do and let donors know the impact they make on the lives of students in Pickaway County,” Marisha said. “We’re so thankful to them for making what we do possible.” 

Anyone wishing to donate to Anne’s Smiles can do so through their website at annessmiles.org

To support programs like Anne’s Smiles contributions can be made to the PCCF Community Impact Fund.

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