For some, Christmas is the best day of the year, but for Fran Morris, Christmas is coming in about three weeks.
It's the day her program, Tires & Treads Community Project, will deliver more than 1,000 supplies to a local school, to help ease the need for families.
Morris, a Port Huron resident, is founder and president of the Tires & Treads Community Project, a program ensuring students have shoes to wear throughout the school year. What started as a project focused solely on shoes, or treads, has quickly grown into something much bigger.
Now in its fourth year, Tires & Treads accepts year-round donations of clothing, shoes or school supplies. Then, just before the start of the new year, the goods are dropped off at school, available to those in need from day one.
She's been able to keep the program moving forward with help from her friends.
All Morris has to do is say the word and many friends are eager to chip in and provide what is needed.
By day, Morris is a waitress at Ted's Coney Island and says she is blessed by the generosity of her customers. Whenever there's been a child in need, they were among the first to help out, bringing in crayons, markers, wipes, and shoes.
She recalls coming into work one day and receiving a request for a pair of size 4 shoes. A co-worker went to the store and purchased them, getting them to Morris the same day.
As a young girl, there were times when Morris didn't have a new pair of shoes to start the school year, and she says it's gratifying to see how excited and thankful the kids are to get new items.
"The day we deliver at schools, there's nothing like it," she says. "It's a peaceful feeling knowing we can help so many kids."
The project partners with one Port Huron school each year and brings in the donations before the first bell rings, but they don't just drop boxes and leave. Volunteers make an event of it, bringing a car show to the school, and creating a fun evening for families.
Morris says this year will feature a tow truck, sports cars, a Delorean, Harley Davidson motorcycles, a handicap-accessible Chevy Silverado, a police officer, and more.
For 2019-20, Tires & Treads is partnering with Keewahdin Elementary School and will be providing about 1,300 items to kick off the new year. The fun takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 28 at the school, 4801 Lakeshore Road in Fort Gratiot.
"It's meant to inspire kids," Morris says.
If the children can dream of being a police officer, or tow truck driver, maybe it could change their path in life and help them make good choices, she says.
Tires & Treads gives to the school year-round, as needed. Although the partnership is with Keewahdin this year, Morris wants other schools to know, they are welcome to ask for help.
"We have the ability to help any child in any situation," Morris says. "We want to give faculty peace of mind if they see a need we can help."
Morris says Tires & Treads is expanding to a second school district in No child should ever go without a pair of shoes.the fall, to help as many children as possible.
Anyone in need of assistance or willing to donate items can find Tires & Treads Community Project on Facebook. School faculty may call Morris directly at 810-455-3611.