It’s not odd for teenagers to have an award or medal or two on a shelf in their room; 6th grade T-Ball participation award, 4th grade spelling bee champ, junior varsity basketball champs. All pretty normal collectibles for a lot of kids. Not so normal are the awards that sit on the bedroom shelves of 15 year old Nicholas Lowinger; 2012 Rhode Island Prudential Spirit of Community Award, 2011 RI Jefferson Award, 2011 Hasbro Community Action Hero Award and the 2011 Youth Leader Award.
At age 5 Nicholas began visiting homeless shelters with his mom who worked with various shelters across Rhode Island. On one such visit young Nicholas was excited to show off his new tennis shoes to the kids he was going to meet. His mother explained to him that the kids he would be meeting were not as fortunate as him and he should be careful that showing off new items might make the kids feel bad. This visit made a lasting impact on Nicholas that he wouldn’t forget!
What started as a community service project, prior to his bar mitzvah in 2010, became a life of giving for Nicholas. He started Gotta Have Sole Foundation with the help of his parents. His motivation was knowing that kids can have a hard enough time trying to fit in and having decent shoes to wear to school or while playing sports shouldn’t be something they need to worry about as well. The shoes given to the children also allowed their parents one less financial burden.
Now with a garage full of donated shoes and help from more than 1,000 volunteers throughout the past few years, Nicholas has been able to provide brand new shoes to more than 10,000 children in homeless shelters in 21 different states. Adding to the program Nicholas has established SOLEdiers in honor of his grandfathers who is a WWII veteran. This program provides gift cards for shoe stores to disabled and needy veterans. The children of the veterans are provided shoes through Nicholas’ inventory.
Knowing how important sport participation can be; Nicholas also has started a program called Serving Love. This program provides sporting footgear so kids have the opportunity to participate in school sports programs.
If you’d like more information about this amazing young man and his foundation you can visit his website http://www.gottahavesole.org/ghs/
This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October. Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.