Gotta Have Sole Foundation donates brand-new footwear to infants children and teens who are living in homeless shelters throughout the US.
I started Gotta Have Sole Foundation, Inc., in 2010 and donate brand-new footwear to children in homeless shelters throughout the US. When I was five I began to visit children in RI's homeless shelters. The children aughed and played like I did, but their families had fallen on hard times. Many children didn’t have footwear or had sores from wearing shoes that were too small. I was dismayed that children shared shoes with family members, often missing school because it wasn’t their turn to wear shoes that day.
Determined to help, I began donating my geently used clothing and shoes to the children. On one delivery, a boy took a pair of my boots, which were too big for him. While the child was satisfied because he had footwear to call his own, I was bothered that I didn’t have his proper size and vowed to someday donate new, correctly sized footwear to these children.
Seven years later in 2010 when I was 12, as part of my bar mitzvah I created Gotta Have Sole Foundation, so I could donate new footwear to children in RI’s homeless shelters. I believe that homeless children deserve new shoes to break in themselves and that they should be given the same opportunities as other children, going to school and participating in sports and social programs. New footwear also helps children fit in better with their peers and increases their self-esteem.
Since 2010, I have donated over 4000 pairs of new footwear to over 3500 children living in homeless shelters in RI, MA, CT, NH, NY, NJ, PA, Washington, DC and Texas. I give them new footwear every time their feet grow, hoping to alleviate the financial burden on the families. Parents and shelter advocates say that the new footwear has dramatically improved the children’s lives. They attend school more regularly, participate in social and sports programs, and feel better about themselves.
One mother shared her feelings, “Words do not do justice to the depth of gratitude in my heart towards you. My daughter and I are living at a shelter. We left with the clothes on our backs. My daughter grew out of her shoes and I thought to myself, “God will provide.” He has and in a big way through you. Your generosity moves me to tears. When we get on our feet financially I will donate to your foundation.” Letters like this are sent to me frequently and motivate me to continue with my mission.
I am proud to say that through Gotta Have Sole Foundation, I have helped thousands of homeless children in the US, and have also raised awareness in communities about the importance of volunteering. Over 1500 volunteers have held shoe drives, packaged footwear, and have helped make deliveries. My hope is that people will see the importance of giving back to their communities and that children will understand that they have the power to make a difference in the world.
I am determined to help as many children living in homeless shelters in the US as I can and plan to donate new footwear to them throughout my lifetime. Saving “soles,” one step at a time is my mission.