I have the privilege of working with amazing high school students all the time. The story I am about to share with you really hit a chord with me. This summer at the leadership camp I organize, a young girl arrived with shoes that were literally falling apart. We could tell she was embarrassed by her shoes but the reality was she couldn’t run and play games with the sole flapping around. So we used a little shoe goo, some fun colorful duct tape and made her smile and love her overhauled shoes. We saw first hand how much she wanted to fit in and the power of a simple pair of shoes.
An amazing young man, named Nicholas Lowinger, had the same realization as a very young boy visiting a homeless shelter. Nicolas saw first hand children who missed school because they shared shoes with their siblings and it wasn’t their day to wear them, so they couldn’t go to school. So Nicholas began donating shoes and clothing to the shelter but he knew these children needed new shoes that fit correctly.
A few years later, in 2010, when Nicholas had his Bar Mitzvah he used the opportunity to begin the Gotta Have Sole Foundation to donate new footwear to homeless children. Nicholas said, “My goal is to reach as many children living in homeless shelters in the US as I can. It has always been my hope that the children will feel more confident about themselves because they have new shoes to call their own and that they will have the same opportunities afforded to them as their peers.”
Today, four years later Nicholas has donated new footwear to over 10,000 children in homeless shelters in 35 states throughout the United States. Rather than rest on his achievements Nicholas keeps expanding his program. He recently established SOLEdiers to assist disabled and needy veterans and their families, in honor of his WWII Veteran grandfather. This program provides veterans with gift cards to footwear stores so they can select the shoes they need, for their children.
Nicholas Lowinger is truly inspirational. While his peers are out running around in their new sneakers, he continues to expand his mission of providing new shoes to as many homeless children as possible. This inspiring young man elevates the meaning of Gotta Have Sole.
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