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Teen starts non-profit to provide shoes for disadvantaged children
2013-1-4
QIFENG Shoes Machine-Let'share a news from By Jodie Wagner, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer.
Forty children in foster care received new shoes this morning, courtesy of a hardworking Rhode Island teenager who runs his own non-profit organization.
Nicholas Lowinger, 15, who started the Gotta Have Sole Foundation two years ago in an effort to provide new footwear to children living in homeless shelters, delivered sneakers, shoes and a pair of soccer cleats to Place of Hope.
The faith-based child welfare organization finds homes and offers family style care for abused and neglected children in Palm Beach County.
Four of the children greeted Lowinger during his visit Monday and gratefully accepted their new shoes.
"I think it's incredible,"  Place of Hope Special Projects Coordinator Sarah Livoti said of Lowinger's work with children. "He's the same age as these kids. He could be in the same situation. The fact that he's thinking outside of the box, thinking outside of himself, is incredible."
Lowinger started his foundation in February 2010 as part of a community service project for his bar mitzvah, though his interest in helping others began years earlier.
"When I was 5 years old, my mother brought me to a homeless shelter because she wanted me to see how other people were living, so I'd be more appreciative of everything I had,"  he said. "While I was there, I saw a lot of the kids didn't have shoes, or had shoes that had holes in them. I knew I had to do something when I could to help out."
Seven years later, he and his parents, Lori and Daniel, created the Gotta Have Sole Foundation.
Today, more than 7,000 children in 14 states have received new shoes through the organization, Lowinger said.
"There's a few reasons for having new shoes," he said. "One is, appearance-wise, it looks nice and can help with self-esteem. Health-wise, having a shoe that fits you is important. A lot of kids don’t have the opportunity to choose a proper-fitting shoe while they're in the shelter."
Lowinger, a high school freshman who is spending his winter break with family in Boynton Beach, relies on a national network of volunteers to help solicit donations of money and shoes, distribute the footwear and host fundraisers for the foundation.
His long-term goal for the foundation is to provide shoes for children in all 50 states.
"I'd just like to help out as many kids as I can and try to get across the United States and reach as many people as possible," he said.
---from Qifeng Shoes Machine.
 
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