900 KIDS

Sole Reason

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What’s Going On

At Sole Reason in Topeka, KS, we will publicize our events here, on our website or Facebook page. Check back often for updates.

Jerry Hudgins of Topeka launched 'Sole Reason' in January to fill a need he saw among children - they needed shoes!

Parker and Sole Reason founder Jerry Hudgins display shoes the group has collected for children in need. (WIBW-TV)

He's already collected 5,000 pair of new and gently-used children's sneakers - and he's just getting started.

Jerry and his friend, Parker, talked about their efforts on Eye on Northeast Kansas. Parker is a fourth grader who attends the Boys and Girls Club after school, an organization which will benefit from Jerry's next collection event. It will be held 4 to 7 pm May 6 and 9 am to 1 pm May 7 in the Hayden High School parking lot.

Jerry Hudgins is putting his heart — and sole — into a project aimed at getting good, usable sneakers to low-income elementary-age boys and girls.

Hudgins, a 47-year-old married father of three, has started a nonprofit organization called Sole Reason, which collects new and gently used sneakers to be given away to youngsters in the Topeka area.

The group will hold its first shoe drive from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday in the Hayden High School parking lot, 400 S.W. Gage.

Hudgins said he expects to distribute around 750 pairs of sneakers on June 10 to youths who attend the Boys and Girls Clubs of Topeka.

According to Hudgins, “the need is great” for a shoe project such as his, as a high percentage of local children live in poverty, with many coming from single-parent households.

“Many of these children come to school or the clubs with holes in their shoes, or just improper footwear,” Hudgins said. “Twice a year, we do major collections and pass out sneakers in June and again around December, and as needed during the school year.”

Hudgins said his organization has formed a partnership with Topeka Unified School District 501 as well as the Boys and Girls Clubs of Topeka.

Hudgins said he volunteers twice a week at Catholic Charities, where he “saw the need.” He said organizations such as Let’s Help and the Topeka Rescue Mission do a good job of providing shoes to adults but that more needed to be done to help kids.

“Our motto is, ‘Putting shoes on their feet and smiles on their faces,’ “ Hudgins said.

Those who donate sneakers for children or who write checks for Sole Reason to purchase shoes will be placed into a drawing for two tickets to an upcoming Kansas City Royals game, Hudgins said.

The winner of the tickets will be announced at the June 10 distribution at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Topeka.

A local man has been pounding the pavement in an effort to make sure kids in Topeka have a decent pair of shoes on their feet.

Sole Reason is a nonprofit group that is holding a shoe drive next month. Founder Jerry Hudgins says he started the charity after seeing how many kids around the capital city were going without decent footwear.

“I met with the Boys & Girls Club without actually realizing how bad the need was. From what I understand, there are around 65 percent of these children living at or below the poverty level and more than 50 percent of these children come from single-parent households,” Hudgins said. “They say a lot of these kids come to school with holes in their shoes or hardly any shoes at all. There’s definitely a need there and we’re trying to fill that gap. As we like to say, putting shoes on their feet and smiles on their faces.”

Sole Reason is a labor of love for Hudgins, who operates the charity by himself with help from his children. And while keeping things going has resulted in some long days for the third-shift warehouse worker, he says the end result will more than make up for the lack of sleep.

“We’re trying to change the world for the better, get these shoes to the kids who need them and give them one less thing to worry about,” Hudgins said.

Hudgins kicked off his campaign in January and has already amassed around 4,800 pairs of shoes. He says most of the donations have come from collection drives at local churches and that the positive response he’s received from the community has been humbling.

“I didn’t expect it to go so well and it’s kind of snowballed,” Hudgins said. “If it continues to snowball, who knows where it could go. I could be helping multiple communities, not just Topeka.”

In an effort to reach his goal of 6,000 pairs of shoes, Hudgins will host a two-day shoe drive on May 6 – 7 in the parking lot of Hayden High School. He is asking for new or gently-used children’s shoes and will also accept cash donations.

Hudgins adds that anyone donating used sneakers keep one thing in mind.

“If you won’t wear the shoes, don’t donate them.”

Shoes collected will be handed out at the Boys & Girls Club on June 3. Those wishing to contribute before the shoe drive in May can do so at www.solereason.net.

Donations can also be dropped off at 580 WIBW Radio, located at 1210 SW Executive Dr.

Jerry Hudgins’ passion for putting shoes on the feet of children in need shone from his face Tuesday when the Topeka Community Foundation announced his nonprofit, Sole Reason, was receiving a grant.

TCF brought 2016 grant recipients together to celebrate Nov. 29 as Giving Tuesday, a national campaign encouraging a global day of giving. Hudgins, who launched the nonprofit in January after seeing a need in the community, said the dollars he received from the foundation would be used to buy more shoes.

In the last 11 months, Hudgins said, Sole Reason gave away about 900 pairs of shoes. The organization will begin shoe drives this week for the holidays seeking donations of new sneakers. Although his organization accepts gently used shoes throughout the year, it is important to give kids new shoes as gifts during the holidays, Hudgins said.

Sole Reason was one of many organizations recognized with TCF grants for their contributions and community programs. TCF awarded nearly $2.5 million in grants for 2016.

“Represented here today are arts organizations, new development organizations, quality-of-life grants — and all of those things happen in our community to make Topeka such a great place because of the great work you do,” TCF president Marsha Pope told about 60 people who gathered Tuesday for the event.

She pointed out that TCF calls the grant-making committee the “Community Reinvestment Committee” because they see the dollars distributed as a way the foundation invests locally.

Funding iniatives in 2016 focused on youth development, mental health and healthy lifestyles. Organizations receiving money ranged from the Jayhawk Area Council of Boy Scouts of America to Habitat for Humanity and the Topeka Housing Authority.

The housing authority received funds for its mental health work at Pine Ridge Prep, a pre-kindergarten school in the Pine Ridge housing complex, said TCF board member Pam Alexander.

“More than 62 percent of the children at Pine Ridge Prep have had more than four adverse childhood experiences, putting them at high risk for mental health disorders,” Alexander said.

The scope of programs was wide. Kaw Valley Public Access Defibrillator Foundation, for instance, will use the funds to increase public access to automated defibrillators, which will allow fast action when someone has a heart attack, while a grant to Midland Care Connection will assist with grief and loss support for children.

As part of TCF’s Giving Tuesday, Pope announced that the next Topeka Gives event will be June 6, 2017, at Fairlawn Plaza. She said the event has grown significantly over the years, from $30,000 in match money and 75 participating organizations in 2013 to $73,500 in money to match donations made to 157 organizations in 2016.

In 2017, TCF will give $35,000 in matching money, and 18 additional donors have raised the total matching funds to $82,250, Pope said.

A few pics from Sole Reason's 2nd Annual New Sneaker drive. Thanks to Magic 107.7 & Cumulus for doing a live remote. Thanks Mike Manns and Amber Lee for making this happen you guys are awesome. Thanks so much for Cassie and Jock's Nitch for hosting our event. Thanks Eric Morierity for all the help and support know that your efforts are appreciated.

A local organization is rounding up donations of new shoes for Topeka-area children in need.

The organization, Sole Reason, is conducting its second annual New Sneaker Drive through Dec. 19.

Topeka-area residents are invited to purchase a new pair of children’s sneakers and drop them off at participating businesses.

Anyone who donates will be entered into a drawing to win a mini-Kansas City Chiefs helmet signed by running back Jamaal Charles.

Shoes can be dropped off at: Cumulus Broadcasting, 825 S. Kansas Ave.; Garry Gribble’s Running Sports, 2130 S.W. Wanamaker; WIBW-TV, 631 S.W. Commerce Place; WIBW Radio, 1535 S.W. Fairlawn; and Golden Corral, 1601 S.W. Wanamaker

Sole Reason visited each pf The Boys and Girls Clubs of Topeka to deliver new sneakers. A great group of kids. Can't wait to help out Montra Site.