Jardine Middle School students got some sweet kicks Friday – brand new Adidas shoes.
“Sweet like candy,” said Alex Bwinja, a 12-year-old sixth-grade refugee from Kenya.
Alex, along with 244 other Jardine students, received brand new shoes Friday – but not your average gym shoes. These Adidas shoes were of all variations – shiny, leather, neon, high tops, air soles, sport shoes and fashion-styled shoes.
“It’s really generous, especially because they’re not getting knock-off shoes, they’re getting name brand,” said Johnathan Beaulieu, a 13-year-old seventh-grader at Jardine who picked out teal-and-black leather shoes.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
It’s really generous, especially because they’re not getting knock off shoes, they’re getting name brand.
Johnathan Beaulieu, a 13-year-old seventh-grader at Jardine who picked out teal-and-black leather Adidas
It all happened because of a local shoe drive started by Amelia Flores, a 17-year-old senior at Andover High School, which went viral when it caught the attention of Kim Kardashian West.
Kardashian West heard about Flores’ donation drive on a syndicated national TV show called Dish Nation. The show quoted an article from The Eagle during a segment called “Wichita Week” while country singer Garth Brooks was in town.
Kardashian West asked her 37 million Twitter followers to help find Flores so that she and Kanye West could donate 1,000 pairs of shoes.
The donation of 1,000 pairs meant Flores would meet her goal of 2,000 pairs – 1,000 of which she was storing in her room at the time.
‘It all started with her’
Soles4Souls split the Kardashian West donation among three cities: Los Angeles, New Orleans and Wichita.
Flores picked Jardine Middle School because she had volunteered at the school with her church, Chapel Hill United Methodist Church.
Denise Koerner, community resource specialist for Jardine, said the shipment arrived at the school Tuesday.
I teared up. It was just amazing.
Denise Koerner, community resource specialist for Jardine
“It was overwhelming,” she said. “I teared up. It was just amazing to see that our kids get to choose.
“They’re all so unique and different. We’d look at a pair and go ‘Oh, this looks like so-and-so would choose these.’”
Jardine students wear uniforms, but Koerner said the students can choose what shoes they wear to school.
“It will be neat to have some snappy shoes so they can look different and be individual,” she said.
She said Soles4Souls called the school about two weeks ago to let officials know Flores chose Jardine for the donation.
She said they gave forms to all 480 students and told the students to put their name on the form if they wanted a pair of shoes.
The school also sent notes to parents, but she said the form didn’t require parent signatures.
Koerner said 245 students completed forms, some of which teachers filled out on students’ behalf if they knew they were in need, but didn’t return the slip.
245 Jardine students signed up to receive shoes
For example, all refugee students at Jardine received shoes regardless of whether they filled out the form.
“They’re beautiful shoes, shoes that most of these kids have never had,” she said.
The boxes of shoes lined the stage in Jardine’s auditorium. Flores, her parents, other faculty and volunteers helped measure students’ shoe sizes and helped them pick out a style – sorted by size and gender.
“It all started with her,” Koerner said while looking at Flores. “We just feel so blessed to be recipients of this.”
The giveaway started around 7 a.m., and by 9 a.m., the school was down to its last pair of size 7 for boys.
“We kind of knew this was the deal,” one the staff members announced.
“If we don’t have your size, I can take your name and shoe size, but I can’t promise anything.”
The drive continues
On Tuesday, Flores flew to Las Vegas with her dad to visit a shoe conference called FN Platform hosted by a fashion site called Magic Online.
At the conference, Soles4Souls surprised Flores with a summer trip to distribute shoes abroad in the country of her choice.
Amanda Grier, assistant principal at Andover High School, said she’s been amazed to watch Flores’ story unfold.
“It’s been amazing to watch what one student can do,” she said.
It’s been amazing to watch what one student can do.
Amanda Grier, assistant principal at Andover High School
She said she’s also been surprised at the sheer number of shoes that Flores continues to collect.
“Everyday we look in and there’s more shoes,” she said about the donation box at Andover High School. “Just more and more.”
Flores said Self-Stor of Andover, 2009 N. Andover, donated a two-month storage unit so she could move the shoes from her bedroom.
“I still have shoes in my room,” she said. “They’re still coming in.”