A local Topeka man has been pounding the pavement in an effort to make sure kids in Topeka have a decent pair of shoes on their feet.
Sole Reason is a nonprofit group that is holding a shoe drive next month. Founder Jerry Hudgins says he started the charity after seeing how many kids around the capital city were going without decent footwear.“I met with the Boys & Girls Club without actually realizing how bad the need was. From what I understand, there are around 65 percent of these children living at or below the poverty level and more than 50 percent of these children come from single-parent households,” Hudgins said. “They say a lot of these kids come to school with holes in their shoes or hardly any shoes at all. There’s definitely a need there and we’re trying to fill that gap. As we like to say, putting shoes on their feet and smiles on their faces.”
Sole Reason is a labor of love for Hudgins, who operates the charity by himself with help from his children. And while keeping things going has resulted in some long days for the third-shift warehouse worker, he says the end result will more than make up for the lack of sleep.
“We’re trying to change the world for the better, get these shoes to the kids who need them and give them one less thing to worry about,” Hudgins said.
Hudgins kicked off his campaign in January and has already amassed around 4,800 pairs of shoes. He says most of the donations have come from collection drives at local churches and that the positive response he’s received from the community has been humbling.
“I didn’t expect it to go so well and it’s kind of snowballed,” Hudgins said. “If it continues to snowball, who knows where it could go. I could be helping multiple communities, not just Topeka.”