A love for shoes has turned into a love of helping others get newer shoes. A collector of footwear since middle school, Connor Creswell found a way to turn his passion into helping others with the Cool Kicks program, which goes toward Treehouse for Kids.
Cool Kicks was developed by Creswell as a way for people to donate gently used shoes to Treehouse, a nonprofit based in Seattle which helps provide foster kids with items such as clothing and shoes.
Creswell said he first got the idea after doing a community service project with Treehouse while in middle school at Seattle Academy. He said when he visited Treehouse headquarters, he noticed the shoe shelves were fairly empty and he found out that keeping good shoes on the shelves was difficult.
Fast forward several years and Creswell, now a sophomore at Eastside Catholic High School in Sammamish, decided to start his own program to give back. Cool Kicks officially kicked off last fall, specifically looking for athletic shoes to be donated, but now Creswell said he hopes to expand to get more than just athletic type shoes to give the kids who go to Treehouse more choices.
“The idea is to continually have shoes coming in for them,” said Creswell.
Jessica Ross, the associate director of development at Treehouse, said it is great to see someone turn a passion into helping others.
“I was just impressed with his maturity,” said Ross. “He had a passion for shoes and he turned it into community good. It’s amazing to see that at any age.”
Creswell is a self-admitted shoe addict. Collecting shoes for years has been his thing. The teenager said he has about 30 to 40 pairs right now, including his favorites: Jordan 3’s.
“They are really awesome shoes,” he said. One thing that Creswell has realized since starting the program is how lucky he is.
“We take a lot of things for granted that others don’t,” he said, like having lots of shoes around. “I never did much community service, and I didn’t have any firsthand exposure to people in need, but this has really taught me about what you can do for others.”
Initiating the process, Creswell finds individual sponsors to run a drive for a period of time. Family, friends and various acquaintances have stepped forward to do drives at places like Mercer Island High School, St. Monica School, Lakeview Elementary in Kirkland, Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Fitness Together. Those individuals collect donations, which are then transported to Treehouse. Creswell said there are four drives going on right now, with three ending in June. Mercer Island’s Chick’s Shoes continually has a donation box available, he said.
“The key I’ve found is to recruit a sponsor at a school,” he said. Anyone can do it, Creswell said, as he has posters, donated by Zella Marketing, and all the basics needed to get it going.
Any gently used shoe is welcome. Ideally, Creswell said they would get new shoes, but he said he understands that people cannot just give new shoes away.
“They should be in good condition — wearable,” he said. One of the challenges he has noticed with donations is the shoes are typically guys’ athletic shoes.
“Traditionally, we get athletic shoes, but we’re trying to get a variety because girls don’t just wear athletic shoes like guys,” he said.
Ross said basic clothing necessities are always in high demand at Treehouse, such as jeans, shoes and tops.
“We have a constant stream of clients coming through and a stream of people like Connor helping out,” she said. “There are some things we just never have enough of.”
Even though he is only a sophomore, Creswell said he has thought about the future and hopes he can find someone to keep this going after he graduates.
“I didn’t really think it would be this big,” he said. So far, Cool Kicks has donated 188 shoes to Treehouse, approximately $3,000 worth of shoes, with another batch almost ready to go.
“I hope to find someone to pass it on to. It’s been really fun,” he said.