Ever since Emily Inch was a little girl, she wanted to help less fortunate children in her community.
When she was very little, she was unusually generous, donating toys and clothes that she didn’t want anymore. As she grew older and became more aware of challenges that her schoolmates face, she realized that she could make an even bigger impact.
Through her own research, Emily discovered that more than 4,000 children in her hometown of Pineville experience homelessness. She was immediately inspired to help. One of these young people’s most pressing needs is shoes, which prompted 11-year-old Emily to start her organization, Soles for Kids Shoe Drive.
Had Emily simply gathered donations of shoes for kids in her community, that would have been a beautiful and inspiring story on its own. But she did even more. The young organizer applied for a a $500 grant from YSA (Youth Service America) and Disney Summer of Service Program. The application process required Emily to write an essay about a problem her community is facing and what she’d do to make a difference. After submitting her essay on the homeless youth in Charlotte, Emily won $500 for her cause! The first thing she did was buy shoes, clearing out two Walmart shoe departments.
With a goal of donating 1,000 pairs of shoes to help 1,000 underprivileged and homeless children, Emily enlisted a partner, Abby Pierce. For the next 6 weeks, they promoted Soles for Kids through their school, flyers, news outlets, local businesses, and social media. Their promotion paid off when they partnered up with Verizon Wireless and the Charlotte Checkers Hockey Team. Thanks to the additional support, Emily and Abby were able to gather 1,898 pairs, providing shoes to almost half of the homeless youth population in Charlotte.
“I want to help more kids get out there, start their own projects, and inspire more kids at an early age,” Emily said when asked what she hopes other people think when they hear about her efforts.