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'Feel great about yourself': Inaugural Gift of Sole recipients weigh in on 1st year impact of campaign

Gift of Sole recipients
Posted at 3:17 PM, Oct 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-26 20:28:10-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Eight hundred and fifty kids in the Kansas City area received a boost of confidence last year, thanks to your help in donating to the KSHB 41 Gift of Sole campaign.

The boost of confidence came in the form of a nice, sturdy pair of sneakers. Jayden Sudduch and Xavion Smith were two of them.

Holmes: “What do you guys think a pair of shoes does for someone’s self-esteem?”

Sudduch: “Man, a pair of shoes raises someone’s confidence. The way you feel about yourself. I don’t know how to explain it, but shoes are a lifestyle.”

Smith: “Just to have a good pair of shoes can really help someone get past the bullies. You can get through the year and just feel great about yourself doing it.”

Sudduch: "I remember when he (Xavion) got his pair of shoes. That boy was happy. He was happy for real.”

Both teens were part of the Urban Ranger Corps, a mentorship group for young men in the Kansas City area.

These teens perform at least 20 hours of community service a year, while participating in countless summer projects. They also have to maintain good attendance at school and at least a 2.3 GPA.

Sudduch: "Those who stick with the program are eligible to receive college assistance, and they learn a lot beyond the classroom. “How to carry yourself as a man growing up."

Smith: “I learned a lot in my six years in the program. I met a lot of people and gained relationships with other Black men like me that I wouldn’t have got without being in the program. It was good to have positive male figures in my life.”

More than 85% of the kids involved live below the poverty line. Seventy-five percent come from a single parent household.

Erik Dickinson, the president at Urban Ranger Corps, says they work to catch these young men before the streets do, and the shoes help to provide equal footing.

Holmes: “Erik, what did the Gift of Sole do last year to these kids. Not just the shoes on their feet, but for their morale?”

Dickinson: “The day we did that, it was like Christmas. Christmas in the middle of the summer. The young men had a good time. Their parents had a good time. The community had a good time, because there were other people in there shopping and were surprised to see someone do that for kids, so it was great. I think it makes you feel 10 feet tall. I think a new pair of shoes are the new status symbol and unfortunately not everyone can do that.”

The hope is, with your help that other young people can follow in their footsteps with a sturdy pair of kicks on their feet.

Sudduch: “It might sound crazy, but shoes can change a person’s lifestyle. The way somebody is feeling man. Just a pair of shoes. A pair of nice shoes. You get that new shoe smell. It can change somebody. For real. It changed me, a lot.”

Dickinson: “It may sound silly to someone who doesn’t understand it. It is a big deal for young people to feel like they fit in. And this is one way they get to fit in.”