Friends Association receives shoes for kids in need

Tom & Lynn Engle, Sandra Lawson, Claire Engel, Jennifer Lopez, Richard Marinari, Christopher Pawlowski and Christopher Murphy.

WEST CHESTER — Max’s Kicks for Kids (MK4K) is an organization that provides new back-to-school shoes for children in need in Chester County. MK4K was founded by Lynn and Tom Engle in July of this year in honor and memory of their son Max, who passed away in 2018. Max was the first male probation officer in Chester County’s WRAP (Women’s Reentry Assessment & Programming) Initiative. In this role, he worked with at-risk women who were on parole or probation. He helped these women rebuild and restart their lives, and by helping them, he helped their families. To “keep his light shining,” Max’s Kicks for Kids will provide new, back-to-school sneakers for Chester County children who would not otherwise be able to afford them.

Recently, in partnership with Friends Association for the Care and Protection of Children, MK4K made their first donation of 32 pairs of shoes for the children in the programs. Friends Association assists men, women, and children through four platforms of service, providing families with services focused on individual need and personal capacity while offering compassion and tools to build a stable foundation for the future. Jennifer Lopez, Friends’ Executive Director, and founder of the WRAP program, supervised, and was a friend to, Max.  “We will never truly comprehend the depth of the impact that Max had on each person he interacted with, his calm, compassionate, caring demeanor created a healing and restorative relationship for so many women.  Through MK4K his impact continues and we are honored to be a part,” said Lopez.

“We never imagined that we would start an organization in Max’s memory.” says Lynn. “Jennifer sent us a beautiful letter after Max’s death and talked about the impact that he had on so many people; about the things that people shared about Max with her. And at Max’s funeral, there was a woman, whom we didn’t know; who came to the receiving line and introduced herself as being one of the people on probation that Max had supervised. She said that she was sad for herself because she wouldn’t have Max to help her, but she was also sad for all the other people who wouldn’t have Max’s help,” adds Lynn. “As the months went on, that statement really rang truer and truer with us.”

“Obviously we were devastated with our own loss but we also really felt like it was such a shame that he wasn’t here to keep putting good out into the world,” Engle says. “That has been our purpose. We want to continue the impact that he had on families. Also, he was obsessed with shoes; that’s why we went with shoes. He had so many pairs. It seemed like a natural fit to go in that direction.”

So, in a tribute to Max and his work, his family will now continue to help those in need. “We are going to do drop offs, every back-to-school season. We are aiming to expand to 200 plus shoes next year,” says Lynn. “These children have many struggles to overcome; with the help of MK4K, they won’t have to worry about having a good pair of shoes to start the school year.”

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