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September 13, 2012

Detroit shoe store steps up to support education

By April Lehmbeck
C & G Staff Writer

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Bob’s Classic Kicks is looking to motivate students to go to school while giving back to the community with some much needed shoes.

DETROIT — If it truly takes a village to raise a child, the owners of Bob’s Classic Kicks want to be a part of that village — people who do whatever it takes to support children.

Christian Dorsey and Jason Johnson are doing something unique and quite extraordinary by giving out shoes to Detroit and Highland Park high school students in Detroit Public Schools and the Education Achievement Authority.

“This is the perfect time to give back to the city and invest in our future leaders,” both owners stated in a press release. “We want our kids to have every opportunity to receive a good education and become productive members of the community.

“For us, this project simply means kids who need shoes will have them, literally moving them one step closer toward a diploma,” they stated.

The co-owners of the store, located in Midtown Detroit, have tied the shoes to student count day on Oct. 3 with vouchers for every high school student in those schools who attend school that day.

They’re calling it the Bob’s Kicks for Count Day Campaign.

The sneaker boutique, located at 4717 Woodward, is the city’s sole shoe store that specializes in athletic sportswear, according to information from the store.

“We’ve been in the community for eight years,” Dorsey said of the store. “We decided to do something to give back.

It’s not just about giving back to the community where they run a successful business, but it’s about giving back to their own roots.

“We’re both products of DPS,” Dorsey said. “We’re giving back to Detroiters.”

With a large percentage of students in DPS qualifying for free and reduced lunch, students obviously don’t have money to buy new shoes if they can’t afford lunch, Dorsey said.

Many students have to wear worn shoes via hand-me-downs.

“What a better way to start off the school year than to get a brand new pair of shoes?” Dorsey said.

New shoes build self-esteem, but by enticing students to make sure they attend count day, it also helps with the schools. For instance, more students means more money for the schools, which can lead to smaller class sizes. Then, students can have more personal attention from teachers during the learning process, Dorsey said.

“We want you to go to school and learn,” Dorsey said. “That’s the main principle to this program — put everybody on the same playing field.”

What may have seemed an ambitious idea has sprouted wings and taken off with businesses and others sponsoring the program and making donations.

“The community has really embraced this,” Dorsey said.

They are planning to make this an annual event with the hopes that they can expand it in future years for all children in the schools.

“It’s a great idea (and) something no one has done before,” Dorsey said. “It’s good for everybody. Why not donate shoes for kids? We just want to keep them in school.”

Later, these children will become the doctors, lawyers and business owners who will lead the community.

To help the cause, visit www.kicksforcountyday.org. For more information, call the store at (313) 832-7513.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer April Lehmbeck at alehmbeck@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1043.