Twelve years old. Hormones raging. Personality invaded by aliens. Livid with the universe for giving me gangly feet. And, Nike was all I wanted to slip on those feet that year: canvas shoes, white, light blue swoosh. Everybody had that shoe, and at twelve, I wanted to be like them.
I’m not really sure, but I think my Mom struggled to outfit me in the latest crazes. Izod gators on a couple of shirts. Aigner A on my purse and belt. Levi on my rear end. And, of course, the light blue Nike swoosh. The world would crumble if I didn’t have the swoosh. Like most pubescent junior high schoolers, I didn’t care whether my parents could put food on the table or pay the electric bill, or God forbid, indulge in something special for themselves.
I pouted and begged and nagged and tantrum-ed my way to the swooshie blue pair of my dreams. And, of course, I tired of them as soon as everyone decided something else was cool. I never worried about whether or not I had shoes. My parents always provided.
These days, parents struggle more than ever. Layoffs and pay cuts and hiring freezes and Tough Economic Times add up to more needy people, families that might look fine on the surface. But, they’re anything but fine underneath.
I spent Saturday morning with some of those families, helping needy kids select a pair of shoes for school through Rotary Happy Feet. Each child arrived at Target with an admission ticket issued by their school. Rotary volunteers measured their feet and were aghast to find some kids wearing shoes up to two sizes too small. Armed with the right measurements, volunteer shoppers helped kids select one pair of school-appropriate footwear. Another team carried them to checkout.
Rotary International picked up the tab for all of it. Almost $4,000 in shoes for 200 children. Their feet were supposed to be happy, but the smiles on the faces of children and parents alike – THAT’S what made me tickled to give up my Saturday morning.
I wonder. Would I have been as gracious when I was a spoiled pre-teen, standing in their shoes?
Too Much is Just Enough: Giving Back