DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A small fundraiser started by a pair of Dallas educators with a passion for sneakers has grown into a nonprofit now preparing to provide hundreds of Dallas area students with new shoes.
Jesse Acosta and Alejandra Zendejas each have a closet filled with a collection of Nike and specifically Air Jordan shoes.
"I think I dress pretty plain, but my shoes make up for it," said Zendejas, a math tutor.
Growing up, a new pair was a rare treat.
"I would only get a new pair every two, three years," said Acosta.
When he started teaching at Kimball High School in Dallas, he noticed many students in old shoes being bullied or trying to avoid attention.
"Those who were wearing super beat up shoes," said Acosta. "This one kid, he came into my classroom, and when he would walk, his sole was coming apart from the shoe."
Acosta wanted to buy him new shoes and the pair started discussing plans for how to match students in need with new sneakers.
When the pandemic hit, they finally found themselves with the free time to put their plan into action.
Within 24 hours of launching an online fundraiser, they hit their goal of $1,500.
Eventually they tripled it.
"Like it still feels unreal," said Zendejas.
They were able to give away 150 pairs of brand new sneakers to kids like 12-year-old Jacqueline Antopia.
"I was so nervous when I showed up, because I was like, what type of shoe are they going to be. And, they were actually so beautiful," recalled Jacqueline. "They were my favorite color. I really fell in love with them."
Acosta and Zendejas have started a nonprofit, Pasos for Oak Cliff, and are already planning their next giveaway.
They say they've raised more than $3,600 in donations from the local community, $5,000 from actress DrewBarrymore who hosted them on her new talk show , and another $8,000 from Amazon.
They expect to be able to help as many as 600 students but are still looking for teachers, parents and community members to recommend students in need.
You can sign up students here.
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