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The difference a cool pair of sneakers can make for Kansas City kids

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Two concentric circles of sneakers in various colors and styles lying on their side and photographed from above.
Christian Gooden
There are hundreds of sneaker styles to choose from but many are out of reach for children of low-income families.

KSHB's "Gift of Sole" wants to put new sneakers on the feet of children whose families may not otherwise be able to afford them.

Childhood should be a carefree time, but kids can be stigmatized, bullied, and ridiculed — all for lacking a pair of decent shoes.

As of 2019, 1 in 7 children in the United States was living in poverty and shoes are one of the most visible signs of that condition.

KSHB 41 News Anchor Kevin Holmes personally experienced the sinking, embarrassing feeling of going to school without a cool pair of "kicks."

He recalls growing up on Chicago's south side when Michael Jordan and his athletic shoes ruled supreme. Holmes' sneakers came from Payless Shoe Source where the in-house brand of Pro Wings for men ran $12.99 a pair in 1989.

Now Holmes is leading his station's Gift of Sole initiative to help 300 kids get a nice pair of sneakers.

The campaign is accepting financial donations online and by text. Those will be used to buy sneakers for children whose parents are financially struggling and cannot afford the footwear.

"We're trying to raise enough money to provide shoes for these kids so they can have a nice pair of sneakers, especially as we head into the winter months," said Holmes.

The long-term goal is to run Gift of Sole annually and perhaps time it to other back-to-school events so that students have new shoes to wear at the start of the academic year.

As Holmes pointed out, "We're trying to provide these sneakers so that these kids have one less thing to focus on in the classroom. They have so many obstacles right now to overcome . . . but shoes, a nice pair of sneakers, shouldn't be one of them."

Gift of Sole runs through Friday, Oct. 15. Donations can be made at KSHB.com or by texting KSHB to 345345.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
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