Changing the world – two feet at a time

April 23, 2015

UWM Coloum Photo

Jacarrie Carr’s efforts to change the world started with a hole in a little boy’s shoe and a man wearing shoes that didn’t match. Carr, a senior in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Education, saw the little boy at the day care center his mother runs. The boy would turn up at day care with holes in his shoes. “That just didn’t sit right with me,” says Carr. The man wearing two different shoes approached Carr on the street to ask for some change. Carr didn’t have any change, but he did give the man a spare pair of shoes he had in his car trunk. Those two events spurred Carr to organize a November 2014 shoe drive, and another shoe drive that’s starting this spring. Carr began his project by placing collection bins in neighborhood businesses like Ebony Two Barbershop and Beauty Parlor, Glendale Heights Child Care and TinaN-Tots Children’s Academy. Tina is his mom. In addition to the bins, Carr printed and distributed thousands of flyers in neighborhoods where he thought shoes were needed and he spread the word on social media. Soon, he had a small but effective team of volunteers assisting his solo effort. Working alongside a shoe-repair expert, Carr refurbished and polished up the shoes so they looked like new. When Clinical Assistant Professor of Education Deborah Blanks heard about her student’s organizing footwork, she offered to help Carr. Classmates donated their own shoes. Some did even more. “The project became a bonding experience for the class,” says Carr. “Before, I just knew most people to say hello to.” Without a lot of fanfare and after only a couple months of planning, he held a threehour shoe giveaway on Nov. 22 at his father’s business on Appleton Avenue. There were stories behind every pair given away, he adds. One caseworker asked for shoes for a whole family that was dealing with ongoing poverty and a sudden tragic death. A group home administrator found shoes for the home’s residents. “They all went to people who really needed them,” says Carr. Carr is organizing another shoe drive to coincide with the back-to-school season this fall, a time when many kids need new shoes. The team approach that came together last fall is behind the 2015 back-to-school shoe drive as School of Education students work to get the word out on campus. Carr says: “I want to have 500 to 1,000 pairs of shoes. I’d like to do it right around the time school starts so no one has to go to class with a hole in their shoe.” An educational policy and community studies major, Carr helps father Lonzie Carr run the family’s landscaping business. He doesn’t have a lot of spare time, but the shoe drive is important to him. “I like shoes, and I like to look nice. Shoes are important.” Carr’s eventual goal after he graduates this December is to launch a nonprofit organization that mentors and educates young people. “I want Milwaukee youth to know people believe in them, and they have many opportunities.” Speaking of opportunity, Carr wants to take a moment now to thank his parents, Lonzie and Tina. “I was blessed to have wonderful parents, but so many young people I know don’t have that. I wasn’t always the greatest kid, but now I’m going to be a college grad with my parents’ help and support.”