Giving Sole is a nonprofit organization providing new shoes to Arizona’s foster children. The organization strives to help these children feel empowered to stand up and use their voice. Giving Sole was founded in 2018 by 10-year-old Gavin Henss. Gavin has a passion for making a difference in the lives of others and the foster care system is near to his heart.
Arizona has one of the country’s highest proportions of children in the foster care system. As of 2017, an estimated 14,000 children were either awaiting foster families or living with foster parents. Many of these children in group or foster homes arrive with the clothes on their back and are in great need of new shoes and other personal items.
With a large population of children in need of new shoes, the Henss family was eager to make an impact after they became a short-term foster family in 2017. “This experience changed our world. After our foster daughter left our home, we weren’t emotionally ready to foster another child,” said Gavin’s dad, Shawn. “Gavin is motivated by wanting to help others and was determined to find a way to support kids in foster care.”
The shoes on our feet often seem simple and can be taken for granted. “A new pair of Adidas or Nike shoes make children feel important and give them the confidence they deserve,” said Shawn Henss. “When you’re a kid, walking into school with a certain pair of shoes matters – from inner self-esteem to avoiding being bullied. We want to give these children not just what they need, but what they deserve.”
Gavin, with the support of his parents Shawn and Alia Henss, strive to provide a new pair of shoes to all foster care kids in need, all while increasing awareness about the foster system in Arizona. With your help, Giving Sole can continue providing shoes and touch the lives of many more foster kids. Each pair of shoes cost around $50 to $60.
So, how did Gavin’s dream to help others become a reality? He had the opportunity many 10-year-old kids would dream of – seeing Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Phoenix Suns in March 2018.
During this game, James was receiving backlash from politicians and media outlets to “shut up and dribble.” This inspired Gavin to think critically about how people of all different backgrounds – sports, medicine, business – can do more than simply stay in their given lane.
Gavin showed up to the basketball arena with a sign reading “King James, you are more than an athlete, #NeverShutUp.” His sign quickly went viral after a picture was picked up by national media outlets, such as USA Today, leading to a trending hashtag on Twitter - #NeverShutUp.
His passion for speaking out ignited something he never dreamed would come from a simple sign at a basketball game. Giving Sole was born later that year and has now provided over 40 pairs shoes to foster children. The organization has quickly garnered support from local nonprofits, businesses and media outlets such as Homes for Good, the #LoveUp Foundation, Arizona Helping Hands and the Phoenix Suns.