One young man is making a difference in the lives of kids in need by giving them sneakers. 22-year-old Nicholas Lowinger founded Gotta Have Sole, based in Rhode Island. He decided all kids deserve a good pair of tennis shoes.
Gotta Have Sole goes way back to Lowinger’s childhood. He started volunteering at a homeless shelter when he was five-years-old. It hit him that children blocks from his home were living in poverty. He noticed the children didn’t have any shoes. If they were wearing shoes, the shoes were falling apart.
Lowinger realized that poverty didn’t have to be half a world away. He wanted to give other children an opportunity. At that time, he just thought everyone had sneakers. Gotta Have Sole has been providing footwear to those less fortunate since 2010. They provide brands like New Balance, Reebok, and Nike to over 100,000 children across the country. They work with 180 shelters.
Lowinger says the charity is important because footwear is an essential part of your attire. It helps children get to school. It helps them get an education and to play without worry about their lack of good shoes. He believes it is a huge part of childhood.
Gotta Have Sole doesn’t just give kids a pair of shoes. It also gifts them a custom notecard and a pair of socks. Many families change shelters without much thought. They lose track of people. A custom notecard gives them the personal touch that they know they’re loved, says Lowinger. He urges people to donate a homemade card when they donate shoes to Gotta Have Sole.
Lowinger and Gotta Have Sole offers multiple ways people can help the organization. Volunteers can help from their own homes, they can decorate cards, they can donate, and they can be the ones that hand the shoes to the children.
Lowinger believes that it doesn’t matter your age, you can make a difference. He says all you need to do is take action. Besides giving sneakers to unprivileged children, Gotta Have Sole has many other programs. They also have a veterans program, a youth-led program, scholarships, and an annual tennis tournament. Gotta Have Sole is changing the world one foot at a time.