Basketball players have some big shoes to fill, but people were up to the challenge Wednesday night, when Kansas University student-athletes donated about 200 pairs of shoes to people at the Lawrence Community Shelter.
“Athletes get several pairs of shoes each year,” said Adam Miller of the KU Athletics Department. “Just because a track or basketball player doesn’t use the shoes doesn’t mean they aren’t fit to be used.”
People stood in line to look at the selection: boxes of shoes atop picnic tables. One man wanted Chuck Taylors. Another wanted army boots. If a resident couldn’t find the right fit, friends often stepped in and joined the search.
Joe Moon, a shelter resident, said the willingness to help is seen throughout the shelter.
“The ones with the least to give were often the ones who helped me the most when I first got here,” Moon said.
When it comes to outfitting local residents with shoes from basketball players, getting the right size can be tough.
Size 13 shoes turned out to be more popular than organizers had predicted. KU basketball player Justin Wesley donated an entire trash bag full of size 13s, but organizers only brought four of his pairs.
“We will probably bring a few more by tomorrow,” Miller said.
The largest shoe donated was a size 17, which they will be sending overseas.
Along with the shoes, members of the KU track and field and swimming and diving teams brought pizza for the residents and signed posters for the children. Rebeka Stowe, a member of the track and field and cross-country team, said she had done work at the shelter before.
“It’s a way to get out and do something for the community,” Stowe said. “I wish we had time to do this more regularly.”
In all the KU Student-Athlete Advisory Council collected 1,500 pairs of shoes from athletes for Soles4Souls, a Tennessee-based nonprofit organization that gives shoes to people in the developing world.