TECUMSEH — The Van Dorens of Vans shoes fame have always had a soft spot for those who feed others, according to longtime friend and Adrian resident Todd Harder.


Harder is a skateboarder and came to know Steve Van Doren, son of Vans founder Paul, while living in California.


Vans makes skateboarding shoes and related apparel. Harder is the owner of Red Paint Printing in Adrian.


The two have been friends for 15 years. They've worked events together in the past, and there's always one constant, no matter where they are — Van Doren serving food.


"One of the big things with Steve and his family is they love to give back," Harder said.


That's why Van Doren sent Harder 500 pairs of Vans shoes to distribute to people in Lenawee County making a difference. It's just a few of the 20,000 pairs the company has sent across the country to honor those working in food banks.


For the past month and a half, Harder and Angelina Pechota, owner of the Perfect Pic Photo Booth, have been distributing the shoes to food service workers at local schools and food shelters.


Harder and Pechota hit up Tecumseh High School Tuesday morning to make another delivery. The two carried in three boxes full of shoes for the women who have worked each week since the shutdown to prepare meals for Tecumseh students. Bus drivers received pairs too.


"Near and dear to Steve's heart is feeding people," Harder said to the Tecumseh staff. "All his events, he's always feeding people.


"Keep it up, our nation needs people who are doing the right stuff."


Each staff member received a pair of shoes in their size, a bandanna and a note from Vans that said "Classified: Essential. We call you family."


"They're the real heroes,“ Harder said. "It's about them."


For Laura Pleasant, food services director at Tecumseh, the sentiment means a lot. Her staff has been on the front lines since the beginning. Schools immediately began food distribution systems once they were closed.


"It's great to have someone out there think of them," Pleasant said. "They deserve that appreciation."


And rightfully so. Rain or shine, snow or sleet, the crew has seen it all in the two-plus months they've been distributing food. Pleasant estimated they package 11,000 meals a week.


"They have been working long hours," she said.


Tecumseh was one of the last stops. Harder and Pechota have also distributed to Adrian, Blissfield, Onsted and Sand Creek schools, along with the Daily Bread and Share the Warmth in Adrian. A few pairs were also dropped off to the office of pediatrician Dr. Koye Adenuga in Adrian.


In all, about 400 pairs. Harder said they're thinking of giving the last 100 pairs to first responders.


The free shoes have been warmly received no matter where they've gone.


"They're excited about it because someone remembered them," Harder said.