Young souls help by donating old soles
Three friends are putting their best foot forward to give shoes to disadvantaged young people this holiday season.
Ezekiel Stoneham, Scott Nearon and Akil Trott said they hoped their 100kickz campaign will help to provide fashionable and functional footwear to young people, including in Caribbean islands devastated by hurricanes this year.
The trio aim to collect hundreds of pairs of shoes and encourage people to donate at the Emporium Building on Front Street from 1pm to 4pm today.
About 150 pairs will go to Family Centre, with more earmarked for another organisation that caters for young people.
Footwear will also be sent to Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands, where residents are still recovering from Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.
It is the second time the group have run the campaign. Mr Stoneham said: “We realised that people our age have an excessive amount of sneakers. And basically we don't wear them all.
“Everybody in our age bracket has five or ten pairs that don't get worn, don't get touched, you neglect, you don't care about anymore, or they are out of style.
“Why not give them to someone who needs them?”
He added: “Maybe a kid wants to look good when he goes to Cup Match, maybe he wants to look good when he goes to Good Friday, or maybe he needs gym shoes.”
Mr Stoneham said the 100kickz name reflected the group's target for the first year.
He explained: “Our goal was just to raise 100 pairs.”
But the group ended up with a total of around 270 pairs of shoes.
Mr Stoneham said: “It was a massive response.”
Around 150 pairs of shoes collected last year went to the Beyond Rugby programme through Family Centre.
The remaining pairs were sent to Feed My Lambs Ministry, which operates in Haiti.
Darren Woods, senior community support worker at Family Centre, said the link between the agency and the shoe campaign came from a conversation between friends about where the shoes could go.
Mr Woods added: “I took it back to our team at Family Centre, and we decided that it would be a great partnership.
“Our team was all for it.”
He said children were “ecstatic” at their gifts last year.
Mr Woods added: “At that age, sneakers are everything.”
Children picked a couple of pairs of shoes each and the remainder went to those most in need.
Mr Woods said the 100kickz charity drive showed how people could use a personal passion to make a difference.
He said: “This was an easy way to do something positive and give to those that are in need.
“So definitely they're an example of how you can take something that you enjoy doing and turn it into a way to help people.”
Shoes for boys, girls and infants have been collected at events which began last month.
Today's collection is the fifth and final one this year.
Around 170 pairs of shoes have been collected so far and the target for this year is 500 pairs.
Mr Stoneham said that Richard Boyle of shoe store chain WJ Boyle & Son had also pledged to donate to the drive.
He said that the trio had learnt a valuable lesson with last year's collection.
Mr Stoneham explained: “We got a lot of shoes that weren't actually good quality, so this year we've been cracking down.
“What I keep telling people is that if you wouldn't wear them, don't donate them.”
Mr Stoneham said that the campaign had added an extra incentive to donate which was used last year.
He explained: “If you donate more than eight pairs you will be entered into a raffle to get a new pair.”
One person last week had donated 26 pairs to 100kickz.
And Mr Stoneham said that he made a personal donation of a dozen pairs of shoes towards this year's target.