Published: Oct 05, 2012 5:48 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 05, 2012 6:46 PM EDT

NAPLES, Fla.- A group of neighbors rallied around an elementary school, raising money to donate new shoes to 4th graders.

More than 80 4th graders at Avalon Elementary School in Naples each got a new pair of sneakers and a spirit shirt.

The donations came from a group of residents who live in the Avalon at Pelican Bay.

Student Millie Gomez says, "I really like them, I really enjoy them and I want to give thanks to the people that gave them to me."

Substitute teach Patty Whalen came up with the idea to raise money and help the students, many of whom come from struggling families.

She says she sent out an email to her neighbors and the money came pouring in. "One email sent out raised over $3,000. We raised money from folks who winter in Naples who live in London, England,Minnisota, Chicago, New York.."

Jacenda Johnson welcomed the new shoes, to replace her sister's old hand-me-downs.

She says, "I'm very thankful for all the people that paid for my shoes because my mom doesn't have any money to buy me anymore."

Whalen says she and her neighbors got just as much out of the experience as the students did.

Student Manuel Pantoja said, "I really love them and I'm thankful for the people that donated them."

The volunteers hope to work more with the school in the future.