In May 2013, University of South Carolina women’s basketball coach and Olympic gold medal winner Dawn Staley had an idea – give brand new sneakers to kids in need.
“The idea is simple, but when you think about it, most shelters don’t receive new shoes. They receive donations, but nothing new for the kids,” said Angela O’Neal, director of operations at INNERSOLE. “And there is something special about getting a box of brand new shoes made especially for you. When you feel good, you are going to hold your head high and put in more effort to things like school.”
And so the idea of INNERSOLE was born. Staley, in partnership with O’Neal and Rene McCall Flint, founded the organization, which is dedicated to changing the negative impact of poverty on children through the act of giving brand new sneakers.
“Our goal is to provide sneakers to children who are homeless or in need,” said Staley. “By giving a new pair of sneakers to kids, we are helping them enter the school year with pride and excitement. And that fuels a stronger commitment to things like schoolwork and extracurricular activities.”
Boeing South Carolina has partnered with INNERSOLE to extend their mission through an afterschool program in North Charleston. The program encourages students to stay engaged in school through attendance, academics, behavior and physical fitness.
“We want to give these kids something to aspire to, and our partnership with Boeing allows them to see what is possible if they work hard,” said O’Neal. “Because of companies like Boeing, there are so many good jobs in our community and future opportunities for our children. When we hand out a new pair of shoes, it could be to a future mechanic or engineer at the North Charleston plant. It is because of Boeing that we can be a bright spot for these kids and inspire them to dream big.”
“When I heard Coach Staley talk about INNERSOLE at the Columbia Urban League dinner in 2014game, my immediate reaction was, ‘we have to be involved in this!’” said Lindsay Leonard, senior director of national strategy and engagement for Boeing South Carolina. “INNERSOLE makes a tremendous impact on the lives of kids in our South Carolina community, and we are proud to be their partner.”
To date, INNERSOLE has provided more than 6,200 pairs of new sneakers to elementary school students.
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