EAST PALO ALTO (KCBS) – Plenty of students got a welcome surprise at Cesar Chavez Academy in East Palo Alto on Thursday, as they prepare for the start of the new school year.

6th grader Elizabeth James was among the many students who opened up a hand sewn shoe bag. She found the pair of pink sneakers she had been hoping for.

“I can wear them for school and I don’t have to buy other ones,” she said. “They’re cute, I like them.”

The shoes were donated by the Redwood City non-profit My New Red Shoes. The organization helps homeless and low-income children at the start of the school year by providing them with new clothing and shoes. Founding board member Timi Most said the mission is to get quality shoes on the feet of kids who need it the most.

“We have everything from the story of the child who was a kindergartner that was going to have to show up in school in his sister’s pink flip flops because that’s all the family had and we put shoes on that child,” Most said. “We use all athletic shoes because we want children to be able to get out and play and we want these to be sturdy and last. So they’re all athletic shoes.”

Every student at Cesar Chavez also received a $50 gift card for white polo shirts and blue pants from Old Navy. Ravenswood School District Superintendent Gloria Hernandez said the uniforms help create a “team” spirit among students.

“And that they are all valuable and equal,” Hernandez said. “It also saves money for parents because they don’t have to be buying different outfits.” She said uniforms also help to counter gang influences on campus.

My New Red Shoes works with collaborative partners, including school districts, family homeless shelters and other community-based organizations. Along with the new pair of shoes, gift card and hand-sewn gift bag, a handwritten note from a volunteer wishing the child well is also included.