Educators with a love for shoes launched the organization Pasos for Oak Cliff to provide shoes for children.
Dallas Independent School District teacher, Jesse Acosta and It’s Not Complicated tutor, Alejandra Zendajas, consider themselves sneakerheads. They have an eye for shoes. Their love for sneakers is what led them to fulfill a need in their classrooms and community.
“We are always looking at shoes before looking at people’s faces,” Acosta said.
As a teacher at his alma matter, Kimball High School, Acosta saw students arrive in his classroom with rough, beat-up shoes. He said some kids would make fun of the kids with old shoes. As COVID-19 hit, some students confided in him that their parents had lost their jobs.
According to data from DISD, 54.6% of its students are economically disadvantaged.
"As educators, we noticed a trend between poverty and shoes - low-income students are more likely to have over worn and torn shoes," Acosta told WFAA. "This leads to a lack of confidence, bullying, and isolation."
The Oak Cliff natives remember being unable to afford a pair of shoes each year, let alone the newest style or collectible shoes. Now, as professionals, they can provide those small luxuries to themselves and wanted to give back to others.
In August, Pasos for Oak Cliff was launched with the goal to provide shoes for at least 30 students. By the end of this month, they will exceed that goal.
The first shoe distribution will take place on Saturday, August 22 and the second one will be on August 29th. In total, they intend to give away 130 shoes.
Teachers and community members provide the organization with families who could benefit.
Acosta said they hope through this small gesture, they can boost student's confidence.
“It feels really good and makes me not just proud of us, but the community," Zendajas said.
The group began to take donations by using their own funds to purchase sneakers to raffle, but soon donations came from outside the state as well. Sneakerhead groups from El Paso, California and New York donated to the organization to meet the goal, Acosta said.
“The sneakerhead community has really come through. Its indescribable,” Acosta said.
Pasos for Oak Cliff is already planning for their second fundraiser for Christmastime. They plan to kick it off in November. Zendajas hopes that their campaign sheds some positive light on Oak Cliff.
"The community is often seen for negative things that happen, but there’s a lot of people who care here and there’s a lot of culture here," Zendajas said.