If there is one thing that ushers in spring in our mountains besides the welcome warm weather and the beautiful flowers that adorn our mountains, it is a return to the baseball diamond at historic McCormick Field.

When the Asheville Tourist Baseball team takes to the field, we know that spring has finally arrived and with that another wonderful outreach that touches the lives of thousands of families each year.

Ten years ago, Eblen Charities began a tremendous partnership with the Tourists in creating the “If The Shoe Fits” program, to help expand their outreach providing shoes to children in our community for parents who couldn’t afford them.

Beginning in 1998, as the Asheville Tourists Children’s Fund, with a simple goal to help ensure that as many kids as possible have warm, comfortable footwear.

During the past decade, in partnership with Eblen Charities’ “If The Shoe Fits” program, Buncombe County Schools, Asheville City Schools, and Payless ShoeSource, the Eblen / Asheville Tourist Children’ Fund has raised more than $375,000 and purchased nearly 30,000 pairs of shoes in its first 19 years.

With the first pitch of the 2018 Tourist Baseball season crossing the plate a week ago, the “If The Shoe Fits” program also began its fundraising season by selling wristbands at “Thirsty Thursday” games at McCormick Field.

The first of ten “Thirsty Thursdays” was held April 12, at the home opener of the Tourists and throughout the rest of the season special wristbands are sold for one dollar each. In the past 19 years, nearly $120,000 has been raised. The volunteers include a dedicated group of 20 advisory board members who volunteer their time throughout the summer.

“We always get excited this time of year; it’s getting warm, springtime is coming and we get to see our friends on the Eblen / Asheville Tourists Children’s Fund advisory board as we gather to sell wristbands,” said vice-president Martha Ball. “We’re glad to give a little of our time so children in our area can have shoes.”

The Children’s Fund also holds an annual golf tournament each summer to raise funds and offers a sponsorship program and for a $25 donation, you can “Sponsor A Child” to purchase a pair of shoes.

The “If The Shoe Fits” program is part of the Eblen Student Clothing Project which partners with Buncombe County Schools, Asheville City Schools, Buncombe County Health and Human Services, and the Walnut Cove Members Association to provide clothing and shoes to students in our community throughout the year. More than 3,000 students each year are assisted through the Student Clothing Project

“It is amazing how much this program and partnership has grown since we first met with David Myers to talk about Eblen and the Tourists joining forces to help provide more shoes to children in need here at home. It is an honor to be working with Keith Jarrett and all those who have been part of this tremendous program.” states Bill Murdock, executive director of Eblen Charities. “This school year alone we have provided nearly $100,000 worth of clothes and shoes to students in our community.” For more information of the Eblen Charities Student Clothing Project or the If the Shoe Fits Program please visit, contact Susan Riddle at [email protected], or visit www.asheviiletourists

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