Toronto Raptors player DeAndre’ Bembry teamed up with California-based nonprofit Shoes That Fit to give 500 pairs of shoes and socks to children at the Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis (BGCI).
Bembry and his AP World Organization distributed shoes and socks at the Wheeler-Dowe and LeGore locations March 5, and the remainder will go to other locations in the coming weeks.
Bembry spoke over Zoom to some of the students gathered at Wheeler-Dowe.
“Giving back is part of who I am,” he said. “I will always use my platform to help those in need. This partnership with Shoes That Fit is part of something I plan on doing to make an impact and help kids in need.”
The Toronto Raptors also provided branded bags for students.
“Shoes always make a kid feel good,” said Avachino Reeves, director of resource development and marketing at BGCI. “It’s nothing that makes a kid smile bigger than new shoes and new clothes.”
Roughly 15 million children nationwide live in poverty, and the childhood poverty rate in Marion County is about 19%, according to data compiled by STATS Indiana.
“When families have to choose between putting food on the table or buying new shoes for school, you can imagine that food wins every time,” said Amy Fass, executive director and CEO of Shoes That Fit. “The simple gift of a pair of shoes can increase a child’s confidence, attendance and performance at school, and we are so thankful that DeAndre’ Bembry is taking the time to make such a positive impact on these kids.”
Shoes are one of the most visible signs of poverty. According to Shoes That Fit, 70% of schools the nonprofit works with report an increase in physical activity, and 40% report higher attendance.
Bembry is in his first season with the Raptors. He played his first four seasons with the Atlanta Hawks and went to college at Saint Joseph’s University.
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.