Bringing home a national championship is not the only mission for Dawn Staley. The University of South Carolina basketball coach also works to make sure children in the Midlands have sneakers to wear, though Innersole, the nonprofit she helped found.
Innersole’s mission received a big boost April 27 from Parker Poe, as the law firm hosted a women’s networking luncheon. Guests arriving at the event at the new USC Alumni Center were asked to bring a new pair of sneakers in youth sizes or a financial donation to go to Innersole.
Staley said her own childhood experiences helped inspire the creation of the charity. “I grew up not caring what I looked like from my ankles up. As long as I had a new pair of sneakers on my feet, I felt like I could conquer the world,” she said. “From that derived Innersole.”
Coretta McGill of Richland School District One spoke to the luncheon crowd about the help students in the district received from Innersole after the floods of October 2015. “For some, [the flooding] was even more devastating than it was for others,” McGill said. “Long after the flood had gone, we still had families suffering.”
She said Innersole offered to provide new sneakers for every child affected by the flood, and when McGill said that would mean a lot of shoes, the Innersole staff said it did not matter how many. “We just want to say thank you,” McGill said.
McGill also read a note from Mill Creek Elementary School Principal Charles DeLaughter. Many Mill Creek students received new shoes through Innersole. “The majority of our children live with families that struggle financially. We have a measurable homeless population,” DeLaughter wrote. “Thank you for a tangible representation of caring for our families in need.
“Notes like that make what we do special,” said Innersole Director of Operations Angela O’Neal. “We can’t all relate to being homeless, but we can relate to the feeling of getting a new pair of shoes.”
Staley said that feeling can mean a great deal. “Kids that have a new pair of sneakers, it just changes their lives,” she said. “That moment that they receive a box with a new pair of shoes in it, that is a moment that is captured for a lifetime. Every time there’s a new pair of sneakers that they get, they relive that, and we want to be a part of it.”
The donations of shoes and money from the luncheon guests delivered dozens of new pairs of shoes for Innersole to distribute, and Staley said she was grateful for the help from Parker Poe. “It is about community,” she said. “We have been very fortunate to have people [like those at Parker Poe] who care as much as we do about making sure kids have some of the essentials they need to be successful.”
More information on Innersole is available here.