More than 100 kids in the Bronx were in for a treat on Thursday afternoon when a typical school day was interrupted with Victor Cruz — who surprised them with new shoes.
Kicking off DSW and Soles4Souls’ shoe donation campaign at the BronxWorks center in New York City, the former New York Giant hosted a footwear giveaway and helped outfit schoolchildren with the sneakers courtesy of the retailer. It marked the first of eight shoe donation ceremonies to be hosted by DSW and its philanthropic partner.
The campaign — made possible by DSW’s 26 million VIP loyalty members — comes as the Columbus, Ohio-based company reported donating 1 million pairs of shoes in the past year. A portion of the proceeds from previous purchases will fund DSW’s donation of 100,000 pairs of new shoes to kids in need this summer, just in time for back-to-school season.
“[Shoes] just shaped my childhood,” Cruz told FN at the event. “I mean, shoes and literally the lack of shoes, too — the ones that I couldn’t afford or my mom didn’t wanna get for me — that drives me in the footwear space today. I wanna have shoes that everybody can get, that are accessible, and do things like this through charities and understand what shoes mean to kids and what shoes mean to the world and what a new pair of shoes can do for a young kid. That’s why I’m here.”
In addition to the giveaway, the ex-NFL star taught the schoolchildren some football plays, such as the proper way to hold a football and tossing it into a throwing net. The kids were then given the shoes and led to a station where they were able to customize their own pairs with the help of volunteers and members of DSW’s style squad, including former “Bachelor” contestant Caila Quinn.
The charitable platform DSW Gives, which was launched last year, will continue the campaign between June and September, donating the remaining shoes to children in places including Atlanta; Dallas; Denver; Nashville, Tenn.; Riverside, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; Richmond, Va.; and New Jersey — which is home to Cruz’s birthplace of Paterson.
“Paterson, N.J., isn’t much different than the Bronx in where we stand today,” he said. “Kids need voices like myself to tell them to keep going, to stay motivated, to keep going forward. And that’s the reason I give back — to understand that these kids need a voice, and who am I to not be that voice?”
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