Donation Drive Brings Hundreds Of Sneakers To Students In Need
Organizers wanted to give the kids a special gift - and inspire them to pay it forward.
Students at Frederick C. Joyce Elementary in North Highlands, CA were all smiles when they arrived to school on Monday and saw stacks of unopened sneaker boxes waiting for them.
Frederick Joyce is one of the poorest schools in the state, with a large population of homeless students and students in foster care. All of the students who attend FJE are eligible for the national free lunch program.
When Tom Tran, a basketball director with the NorCal Dynasty AAU basketball program, heard that some of the students were wearing slippers to school because they didn't have shoes, he decided to do something about it.
Tom Tran (middle) says the giveaway was "a day he'll remember for the rest of his life."Frederick Joyce Elementary/Facebook
Tran teamed up with Hill Moua, CEO of the Sneaker Giveaway Project, and other community leaders to organize a massive sneaker donation drive for the students. In less than a week, they collected over 100 pairs of brand new shoes, socks, basketballs and duffel bags.
The students were all smiles as they tried on the shoes and passed around the balls.
"This is amazing," Keyvon Rhodes, a sixth-grade student, told KCRA-TV.
Students were all smiles as they chose their sneakers from among the 100+ donated pairs.Frederick Joyce Elementary/Facebook
Other students were hesitant at first, seemingly in disbelief that the donations were actually meant for them.
"This is crazy. I can't believe this," student Jordan Salvo said. "It's so cool how people would donate all this to us."
Tran and several faculty members fought back tears as they watched the students pick out their sneakers.
"It feels awesome," Danielle Jones (aka "Coach Buckets") said. "I'm so overjoyed right now. I know these kids work so hard and some parents may not be able to afford to do this."
Tran and a student. All of the students at Frederick Joyce Elementary qualify as low income. Frederick Joyce Elementary/Facebook
Karen Beukman, a teacher's aide, said the best part was getting to see the students smile.
"Some of these kids, we never get to see them happy," she said. "To see them happy for a moment is very cool, right?"
As for Tran, he says he wasn't looking for any praise or acknowledgement for putting on the drive. He's just hoping the students will do the same for others if and when they have the opportunity.
"This isn't about me. I don't need nor want the credit," Tran wrote in an emotional Facebook post.
"We can all give back in some way to impact a life. Hopefully, one day, they will remember who and then they can impact. What inspires me (every day) is hopefully changing and impacting someone to do better."
What an amazing thing to do to help others in his community who are in need. We hope the students will take Tran's lead and pay it forward to others when they can!
Tran hopes the students will be inspired to pay it forward after the donation drive. Frederick Joyce Elementary/Facebook