Shoe Bins-Gotta Have Soul

It’s mid­-August and the stores are bustling with families scrambling to get their school supplies before the school year begins. Children are excitedly choosing new shoes and pants, branded lunch boxes and backpacks. The bill for these items can run families a few hundred dollars per child. Back-to-school sales can help, but think for a moment about the anxiety that homeless parents feel without the funds to buy the anything.

As Nick Lowinger grew older, he became aware of the exploding costs and felt fortunate that his family was able to afford not only what he needed for school, but also the popular brands he wanted.

“The sad truth is that there are almost 2.5 million homeless children in the US—one out of every three are youth under the age of 24,” he told Good News Network.

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“I first became aware of the prevalence of homeless youth when I was five, and met children of every age at a local shelter where I went to volunteer with my mother. I was surprised to see that many of these children didn’t have shoes that fit them, if they had any at all. Children stayed behind at the shelter while a sibling wore the only pair of shoes they had to share between them, and they would switch places the next day. The first day of school would come and go for some of these children, all because they lacked their own properly fitting footwear. Some children expressed embarrassment over having to wear shoes that were so worn out.”

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That is why he started the nonprofit, Gotta Have Sole.

Since its founding in 2010, Nick’s group has donated new shoes to over 51,000 homeless children in all 50 states, allowing them to participate in sports and school activities alongside their peers—and succeed with them, as well.

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If you want to help improve the dignity of homeless children in your own community, increase their self­-confidence and pride so they can realize their hopes and dreams to succeed, here is a list of three of the best ways, according to one homeless shelter. The most pressing needs are:

1. Donate gift cards to homeless shelters so homeless families can purchase clothing and/or school supplies for their children.

Most schools send home a lengthy list of classroom supplies for parents to purchase for the first day of school. Long gone are the days when schools provided an abundant supply of markers, pencils, glue sticks, etc, for children to use in the classroom.

The shelter we spoke with said that one year they had a large number of high school students in the shelter who didn’t have calculators for math class. The shelter had to round up the money to purchase them, which put a strain on their budget. Donating gift cards for department stores or office supply stores that are near the shelter’, would be a huge help to homeless families, allowing them the ability to purchase what they need.

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2. Become a peer mentor or tutor:

Transitioning to a new school can be very difficult for homeless children who have been uprooted from their old neighborhoods. Gotta Have Sole high school clubs are run by teen leaders who act as peer mentors and provide a constant support for youth at the shelters.

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Near­-peer mentors go to the shelter after school to give moral support to the children and to help them with homework challenges. They also provide new shoes for the children, and run after school activities with them which promotes a more inclusive and cohesive community. To start a club in your school or community, check out our website page.

3. Donate new footwear to Gotta Have Sole’s Step Up for Homeless Youth campaign and we will purchase the footwear children in shelters need

Footwear orders pour in at Gotta Have Sole every summer, so this year, they’ve set a goal to outfit 1,000 homeless children with the shoes they need for school. It costs an average of $15.00 to outfit a young child with a new pair of sneakers, and $25.00 for teens. 100% of donations support our footwear program.

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“I don’t see sneakers as being cool or trendy. For many homeless children, shoes are a sign of hope, opportunity, and dreams fulfilled. Join with us, and improve the lives of homeless children, one “sole” at a time.”

(WATCH a past video of Nick Delivering Shoes below)

Get Your Friends Involved, Click To SharePhoto by Gotta Have Sole

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