By Ethan Duran
Book bags, shoes and haircuts for children are being given away at the Jacarrie Kicks4Kids Fifth Annual Back to School Drive this August 11 at Tina & Tots on Appleton avenue. The air will be filled with the sound of music and basketballs banking off backboards among other forms of entertainment. Children under six who attend will have their shoes chosen by their parents, but kids over six can choose their own. Each child will get one pair of shoes and one backpack.
At last year’s shoe drive, held at the Parklawn Assembly of God, tables full of shoes and backpacks filled the auditorium. An enormous amount of Nike, New Balance and other brand name shoes lined the floors. Jacarrie Carr, founder and CEO of Jacarrie Kicks4Kids, said that the shoe drive gave away around 500 shoes. This year, Carr says that he expects to give away 500 to 1,000 pairs.
Most of the shoes come from donations and partnerships with other organizations like UW-Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Bucks. Carr, a well-spoken UWM alum, is not shy about sharing the mission statement of his organization.
“We want to boost the self-esteem of these kids and prepare them for school,” Carr says. Carr boasts about his own shoe collection now, but he said he remembers being in the shoes of a child who could not afford proper shoes and had to face a school culture focused on material excess.
In poorer areas of Milwaukee, some parents can’t afford to buy their kids decent shoes. Carr said that these children will be teased by their peers at school and won’t focus on learning. By supplying children with shoes, Carr said that if everyone looks the same in school, there won’t be a reason for any bullying or teasing.
“If kids can say, ‘I don’t look like my situation,’ they will have self-confidence despite their situation. Self-esteem is everything,” Carr said.
Carr said he will be among the dancers that day, proclaiming to be one of the best adult dancers at events like this. Carr and his organization will also be handing out pamphlets and other resources to get kids enrolled into Jacarrie Kicks4Kids workshops and the weekend program planned for the future.