Ezekiel steps up shoe campaign
Ezekiel Stoneham has got sole. He and two friends have collected sneakers to be given to disadvantaged young people for two years running.
Mr Stoneham, with Scott Nearon and Akil Trott, launched the 100kickz campaign in 2016 to collect shoes and redistribute them to those in need at home and overseas.
The campaign name reflected the group’s target of 100 pairs of shoes for the first year, but the drive ended with 270 pairs of sneakers collected and given to charity Family Centre and other good causes.
This year’s campaign netted 529 pairs, breaking the goal set by the group of 500.
Mr Stoneham was pleased the group had once again beaten their target. He said: “When we got our original count it was actually 497.
“It was literally three people that hadn’t dropped off shoes that we had completely forgot about and that’s where the other 30 plus pairs came in. So it just sort of worked out perfectly.”
Mr Stoneham, from Southampton, admitted that for a time it looked as if the 500 was “a little ambitious”.
He explained: “The drives weren’t as successful as we wanted them to be.”
But he said the picture changed in the week after the final collection event held last December.
Mr Stoneham said: “It was like everyone just rushed and we got like 300-something pairs.”
He added: “Even now, I have people contacting me asking to drop off shoes.”
Mr Stoneham said that 104 of the best pairs donated went to Family Centre last Friday.
Youngsters will be able to pick their favourite pair later this month.
Other pairs will be sent to Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands, both devastated by hurricanes last year.
Mr Stoneham said the group had discussed a sneaker collection drive in schools.
Donated shoes could be collected and sorted before being distributed to children in need.
Darren Woods, senior community support worker at Family Centre, said Mr Stoneham was a “very creative, driven and focused young man”.
He added: “He is passionate about giving back to the community, creating opportunities for our younger generation and sharing his life experiences with them.”
Mr Woods said he had asked Mr Stoneham to take part in Family Centre’s Youth Leadership Academy and Beyond Rugby programmes.
He said: “He has a unique perspective, which allows him to relate and really challenge our young people.”
Mr Woods added that Family Centre had been “delighted” to benefit from 100kickz gain this year.
He said: “Mr Stoneham has supported Family Centre programmes for the past five years in various ways.
“He is a great example of how an individual community member can take something they are passionate about and make a difference.”