Chico >> Last fall, Farshad Azad decided to make “Gimme Some Sole” a project for Make a Difference Day. The project provided shoes and rainboots to elementary-age children at McManus School and the Torres Shelter.
Azad was surprised to hear Gimme Some Sole was one of 10 National Honorees chosen by the National Make a Difference organizers to receive a $10,000 grant for the nonprofit of their choice.
He chose the Chico Community Shelter Partnership, which manages the Torres Shelter. He was excited to tell the news to Brad Montgomery, executive director at the shelter, which serves families as well as homeless adults.
“I was so surprised by this award … I did not do it all myself. I had a lot of help. My students and staff here, volunteers from the community, a lot of people were interested, donated and helped.”
Azad, owner of Azad’s Martial Arts Family Center, realized the specific need for shoes when he attended a school principals’ meeting last fall. “Kids come to school in shoes with holes, or in flip-flops in the middle of winter … And it turned out to be a wet winter.”
Tina Keene, principal at McManus, said Azad’s help for her school was beneficial. “Regardless of economic background, kids go through shoes. They’re often too small, or hand-me-downs, or falling apart. Soles split, they get wet in the rain,” she said.
Gimme Some Sole’s results were more than Keene imagined. “At the end of October, Farshad called and said I should have a couple of kids with me to meet him in the parking lot. His car was full of shoes, gently used to brand new, from private people to Pay Less Shoe Source. And lots of boots, and that was just the beginning. We had enough, with some left over for next year.”
Besides Keene at McManus, Azad also worked with Brad Montgomery, executive director of the Torres Shelter.
“This award is a really big deal for Farshad, because literally thousands and thousands of people participate in Make a Difference Day, and only 10 in the entire country were acknowledged with this award,” said Montgomery.
“We were very pleased when they said this national recognition comes with $10,000. Farshad wanted the money to go to families, so we decided to earmark these funds to go to 10 family members. We spend about $1,000 per person here.”
Montgomery also said the Gimme Some Sole shoe drive is really an extension of what Azad does frequently. “He has been doing things like this, year after year. He does a lot for us and for other groups.”
Azad realized a connection to his own family during this year’s project. “My grandfather had orphanages in Iran, and he used to collect all kinds of things for kids there. There were a lot of poor kids, and he would load up a truck full of stuff.
“I was talking to my mom about Gimme Some Sole, and she cried — not because of the award, but because what I’m doing is similar to what my…