Courtney and Tanner Craven and family

Lake Highlands High School assistant football coach Tanner Craven says he and his wife, Courtney, a P.E. teacher in Plano ISD, see it all the time. Children show up for class in worn-out, ill-fitting sneakers – the best their family can afford. The Cravens’ solution was simple. They created Soles for Souls to provide new athletic shoes to elementary school kids.

So far, Soles for Souls has delivered more than 150 pairs of shoes to kids aged 5-13 in Plano. They’re now collecting to help students at LH’s Thurgood Marshall Elementary.

“Our goal for this initial campaign is to raise 40 pairs of shoes for the one elementary,” says Tanner. “In the case we are able to raise more, we would reach out to other elementary schools with need.”

Soles for Souls is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and you may donate via Paypal here or Venmo here, or order shoes from the Amazon wish list here and select delivery to the Soles for Souls registry address at check out. Tanner will also be on hand to receive donated shoes at LHHS’ multipurpose activity center (MAC) when spring football practice ends at 5:30 p.m. each afternoon. The Cravens don’t have a brand preference, but elementary school kids mostly wear sizes youth 13 to adult 7.

The Cravens say 65% of schoolchildren are wearing the wrong size shoe, which can create physical impairments in their feet, hips and spine. Lack of proper footwear or embarrassment about one’s shoes can also lead kids to opt out of physical activity, and 18% of kids aged 6-11 are considered obese.

“We’re looking forward to expanding this program,” says Tanner. “We started this organization to give more to kids than just the education we teach.”