Rockton 7th grader collects 170 pairs of sports shoes to give away


Courtesy photo: NJHS nominated 7th grader Nathan Schmidt collected a total of 170 pairs of shoes. The collection was a project that was supported by the overall community to give shoes to other kids who might need them.

When the 2023-2024 school year starts, Nathan Schmidt is going to be entering seventh grade as a student at Stephen Mack Middle School (SMMS). Schmidt spent part of his summer helping other young people (and their feet) through a special project.

Schmidt's mom Tammy and his friend Mason Sharp, another student at SMMS, worked with him to collect “Second Chance Sports Shoes.”

The purpose behind this mission - giving gently used sports shoes a second chance to play - is to help kids stay active, to help parents save money, and to give the community an opportunity to be involved. Another bonus: reusing is a form of recycling that reduces landfill space.

“I know that kids would need sports shoes or just regular shoes. I play three sports a year, so my mom and I have to get new shoes every few months. We understand the hassle of getting new shoes, so why not donate them to kids in the community,” Nathan Schmidt said.

Residents could drop off shoe donations at a variety of places including the Rockton River Market in Settler's Park, two branches of the Stateline YMCA, the Village of Rockton, Talcott Free Library, Gymnastic Academy North in Roscoe, and Bootcamp Academy in Roscoe.

Finally, on Saturday, July 29, 2023, Schmidt hosted a free shoe giveaway at the YMCA Ironworks branch in Beloit.

By that time, with the help of the overall community, Schmidt had collected 170 pairs of shoes, bypassing his goal of 100.

Schmidt has aspirations of becoming part of the National Jr. Honor Society (NJHS). After he was nominated, “Second Chance Sports Shoes” became his community project.

Requirements for the NJHS include having a GPA of 3.75 or higher, wanting to help the community, and to be nominated. Seventh and eighth grade students who meet qualifications begin their journey by earning a nomination.

Each nominee must do one community project each year as part of the application process. They can also build off what was done in the previous year or years. Once accepted as a part of the organization, each student is required to do 10 hours of volunteer work.

One of the people that Schmidt has always wanted to meet is Village President John Peterson. By doing this project, that door was opened for him as they met at the Rockton River Market.

“I have been wanting to meet President Peterson for a while, as I have always wanted to be involved in politics,” Schmidt said.

He adds, “I had my first opportunity in sixth grade when I was elected to the student council. I am hoping to continue growing from that experience.”

Schmidt reflects on the overall project. “I had a lot of fun doing this and the people I met along the way were amazing. I can't wait for next year,” he said.

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