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When the Shoe Fits: Maggie's Sole Mission Is Helping Kids

The Fort Worth non-profit hopes to reach even more schools in 2024

Lisa Nichols’ mother, Maggie, knew what it felt like only to own hand-me-down clothes. Growing up in poverty, receiving something brand-new did not happen often, and her family often received donations from friends and classmates. “My mom grew up very differently than I did. She lived through childhood poverty and abuse, and I grew up hearing these stories,” recalls Nichols. 

As a child, Lisa remembers going with her mother, who had become an educator, to buy new shoes for students who couldn’t afford a pair. When asked, Maggie would say that kids often miss school because they don’t have shoes that fit, and if they miss school, they fall behind in their studies. She never told anyone she bought the shoes; she just wanted the kids in school. She was adamant about this because getting an education broke the cycle of poverty for her. 

Sadly, Lisa’s mother passed away from cancer in 2020. She was at the hospital when the idea for Maggie’s Sole Mission came to her, “I was trying to tell her stories about how she had made a positive impact. I remember how much joy she had working with kids. It came to me in that moment. I wanted to bring her comfort and carry on her legacy. I said, ‘Mom, I’m going to start an annual shoe drive for students in your name; your mission will never be forgotten.’ She couldn’t talk at that point, but she smiled, and I knew she understood,” says Nichols.  

That summer, Lisa hit the ground running, and it was very much a grassroots effort. She spread the word with friends and family and began a social media campaign. Quite a few people responded; they raised $1100 and were able to donate new shoes to Arlington ISD kids living with homelessness.

Maggie’s Sole Mission was a registered non-profit organization in Texas by the second year. When I asked if she had recruited her mother’s former co-workers to help, she said they came to her. “It’s been very moving—several have reached out saying ‘I worked with your mom, I want to help,’—which is so touching for me.” 

When asked how Maggie’s Sole Mission selects recipients, Lisa explained that a school counselor or liaison works with the non-profit as they know which kids are in need. “They put together a list of genders and sizes. Then, we go to our donors and use their funds to match up the best we can with sizes and colors for specific children. The first year, we just delivered the shoes. Now it’s an event on Oct. 17th—my mom’s birthday. The kids come and try on shoes until they find a pair they like. We see that excitement, how sweet the kids are.”

So, what does Maggie’s Sole Mission look like now? Nichols says volunteers have done very well connecting with different community partners. For example, in 2022, employees from Tyler Technologies collaborated with Keds and designed 160 pairs of shoes for kids in need and donated an additional $2500. H.F. Custom Solutions donated all the signage, and Brooke Macko is the non-profit’s photographer, free of charge. In addition, Academy Sports gives a 20% discount on all shoes purchased.

All of it is needed. “In 2023, six different schools contacted us, and I want to say yes to everyone. That’s why, in 2024, we are hoping to partner with corporate sponsors to level up our efforts,” says Nichols. 

There are plenty of opportunities for the community to get involved, too. You can donate year-round via Venmo, PayPal, or any other service. In summer 2024, they hope to set up a +1 Back to School drive, where donors can buy a pair of shoes for their kids and a pair for Maggie’s. They’ll also need more volunteers on Oct. 17th, when they head to the selected school with shoes. “We were outnumbered by the students on delivery day this year. That’s the fun and meaningful part of the mission,” says Nichols. To get more information, check out their website: maggiessolemission.org

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