From: Helping homeless kids put their best foot forward By Laura Klairmont, CNN
When five-year-old Nicholas Lowinger visited a homeless shelter, his mother cautioned him not to show off his new light-up sneakers to the kids there. Nicholas soon understood why.
“I saw other kids my age who looked just like me. The only difference was, they were wearing old, tattered shoes that were falling apart. Some didn’t have a pair of shoes to call their own,” said Nicholas, now 15. …”Homeless children…shouldn’t have to worry about not being able to play sports or go to school because they don’t have a pair of shoes.”
That first shelter visit left a strong impression on Nicholas, who started donating all the shoes he’d outgrown to local shelters. But he quickly realized that his donations, while well-intentioned, weren’t that helpful. “It bothered me that I only had used shoes to give to them instead of new shoes that fit right,” he said. “No two people’s feet are identical, and if you are wearing someone else’s worn shoes, your feet aren’t going to be very comfortable.”
So in 2010, at the age of 12, Nicholas started a program that donates new shoes to homeless children…”I didn’t want to make one donation and stop there,” he said. “I wanted it to be something I could do for the rest of my life.” With the help of his parents, he then started the Gotta Have Sole Foundation. Since 2010, the organization has donated new footwear to more than 10,000 homeless children in 21 states.