Pendleton - For one local philanthropist, making sure needy children have a nice pair of shoes on their feet and a special package under the tree gives Christmas a special meaning.
Dr. Phillip Shirley, also known locally as the Shoe Santa, has spent close to two decades helping supply the simple gift of shoes to area children who need it most.
“1990 was the first year,” Shirley said. “I was a single father back then with two kids, and a pastor told me about some needy children.”
He said that while no one knew who he was, that first year he purchased just 12 pairs of shoes.
“It’s just grown from there,” Shirley said. “It’s continued to expand as we realized we could get more bang for our buck through the foundation.”