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Pasos for Oak Cliff Expands Summer Sneaker Giveaways


Jesse Acosta and Alejandra Zendejas | Image by Good Morning America

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Pasos for Oak Cliff, a non-profit organization providing children in need with pairs of shoes, is expanding its summer sneaker giveaway across Texas.

During the pandemic, Dallas geography teacher Jesse Acosta and math tutor Alejandra Zendejas founded Pasos, which means “steps” in Spanish. When Acosta and Zendejas first started collecting shoes in 2020, it was supposed to be a one-time giveaway.

“Here we are almost two years later, giving out scholarships, doing summer programs, and expanding to more of Texas,” Acosta told NBC DFW.

Acosta and Zendejas expanded the giveaway by donating 100 pairs of shoes in Austin on Saturday to benefit the same University of Texas community where they graduated. On July 23, they will have giveaways in San Antonio and Fort Worth, and on July 30, in the Dallas neighborhood of Oak Cliff.

The shoes that Acosta and Zendejas collect are brand new or gently used name-brand sneakers. They are either donated by the community or purchased by the couple with monetary donations they receive. Some pairs retail for up to $200.

“Our sneakers are more than just a pair [of] shoes,” their site reads. “We curate every pair we give out to make sure they are comfortable and stylish. This is crucial to us, especially as sneaker culture gets bigger and bigger. Our motto is ‘we won’t buy what we wouldn’t wear.'”

So far, Pasos for Oak Cliff has donated 1,500 pairs of shoes.

Acosta says that all students from kindergarten through 12th grade are referred to them by a teacher.

“We’re just trying to give back and helping students in Texas,” said Acosta, a self-proclaimed “sneakerhead.”

He noticed a connection between children’s attendance or academic performance and what they wore on their feet. Acosta explained that if a student did not have a good pair of shoes, they could be embarrassed to attend classes.

“At Pasos, new stylish sneakers are an opportunity to increase confidence and academic achievement. Children with worn-out shoes are more likely to experience bullying, isolation, and low morale,” Pasos’ website states. “Our shoe drives intentionally target children from families experiencing temporary financial hardships or that are unhoused. Our handpicked stylish shoes help student[s] feel ready to learn.”

“These shoes are really transforming their education level, and it helps with confidence. Who doesn’t love a new pair of shoes?” said Acosta.

Stories of how children’s lives are transformed after they receive shoes from Pasos for Oak Cliff have changed Acosta and Zendejas forever.

Zendejas related the story of a young girl the organization provided with weather-appropriate footwear.

“The little girl said: ‘I finally get some tennis shoes!’ She was wearing snow boots and [it was] like 100 degrees outside. I just started crying,” said Zendejas.

The couple stated they had received letters from children who were grateful to receive their new shoes.

“I’m proud, but we haven’t done enough, and I’m excited about where it’s going,” said Acosta.

A fundraiser will be held on Saturday, July 16, at Centre on Mockingbird Lane in Dallas to help Pasos for Oak Cliff give back to those in need. The nonprofit has teamed up with Centre sneaker boutique, SoleSavy, and Four Corners Brewing and will take donations from 6:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.     

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