HAMPTON, Va. — An Air National Guardsman in Virginia is collecting footwear for kids in need after being bullied for her own shoes growing up.
Tech. Sgt. Becca Adams started her Fast Forward shoe drive project in 2018.
She said giving back to her community is something her family has always valued.
"My mom gives and gives and gives," Adams explained.
Though Adams never met her grandmother, she refers to the shoe drive as "Cora's Vision" because she knows it would make her grandmother, Cora, proud to see the generations of service.
A memory from Adams' childhood served as the original inspiration for a shoe drive. She remembers being excited when her mom bought her a new pair of brown boots, only to get teased by her classmates because the shoes were not genuine Timberlands.
"They fried me," she said.
Experiences like that can really take a toll on kids' confidence, Adams said. So in 2018, she took to Facebook to collect donated shoes and money to purchase footwear for kids in a nearby low-income apartment complex.
With help from the apartment manager, she donated 100 pairs to children living in the building.
Adams has continued her efforts over the years, and now that pandemic restrictions have mostly lifted, she's hoping to make up for lost time in 2020.
On Aug. 14, she and other nonprofits in the Hampton Roads area will host an event in a local park with a shoe giveaway, free food and music. She hopes the shoes will help kids in her community start the school year off on the right foot.
"It's my desire to serve, period. I love being a part of the military, I love volunteering," she said.
If you are in the Hampton Roads area, you can donate shoes by completing this form. You can also donate money via Cash App at $fastforwardshoedrive.