The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

My New Red Shoes lace up to alleviate Bay Area financial stress

Erik Cheng
To support the vast and varied communities across the San Francisco Bay, the nonprofit organization, My New Red Shoes, takes donations of shoes and clothing to send out via partnerships with other organizations.

Volunteers and employees of the local non-profit organization, My New Red Shoes intertwine outreach, volunteering, and shoes. 

Founded in 2006 by Menlo Park Entrepreneur Heather Hopkins, My New Red Shoes (MRNS) aims to improve the quality of life of children in poorer communities in the Bay Area.

“The stress of poverty and being unable to access basic needs has a long-term emotional and physical toll on families. By providing shoes, clothing, and other items, families can have one less thing to worry about. For youth, school attendance and participation outcomes are improved,” said Erin La Ninfa, MNRS Director of Operations.

Across the nine counties the Bay Area encompasses, an average of 8.8% of families are below the poverty line or have an annual income of less than $29,000. To serve the vast amount of families scattered around the Bay, MNRS partners with businesses ranging from local businesses to large retailers to receive and ship out donations. 

Shoe sorting, storage, and shipping are monumental tasks for such a small organization. Because of this, MNRS employees like Community Programs Coordinator Zoe Verni recruit volunteers to help drive operations.

“We offer weekly volunteer drop-in hours on Wednesdays. We also offer volunteer events exclusively for corporate groups or other community organizations,” Verni said. “On a typical day, volunteers will come into our office in Redwood Shores, receive an introduction and instructions from our staff member, have the opportunity to get to know their fellow volunteers, and then assist with quality checking, organizing, and packing shoes or clothing.”

To store the incredible amounts of donated shoes, My New Red Shoes employees store them in their warehouse space. Later on, volunteers are tasked with sorting, quality control, and labeling the boxes by size and style. (Erik Cheng)

Additionally, MNRS directors help organize local events and participate in national efforts for community service. MNRS hosts a yearly golf tournament at Stanford Golf Course in August to raise money for the organization. During Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the organization participated in the nationally recognized community service day and partnered with local volunteer organizations to continually drive their operations. 

Expanding beyond clothing, MNRS created unconditional financial aid programs to further assist disadvantaged communities. 

“We recently completed our first guaranteed income program, Project Empower, in partnership with Tahirih Justice Center, to provide $1,000 a month for six months to 10 families in need. While it is not always a tangible item like a pair of shoes, cash is an effective and autonomous way to help people meet their needs,” La Ninfa said. 

 The community collaboration of Project Empower enabled both organizations to gain valuable experience for future financial aid programs. 

“Hundreds of guaranteed income programs have emerged across the country, so we are thrilled to learn from and contribute to this growing community committed to combating income inequality,” Verni said.

Furthermore, MNRS has helped to benefit families far and wide, assisting in crisis recovery and gathering more support and opportunities for local families to help out. 

“We typically serve the greater Bay Area but are always willing to help where there is need. For example, in 2022, we partnered with USA For UNH to process and ship over 120,000 pairs of boots to children and families fleeing the war in Ukraine,” La Ninfa said. 

Giving volunteers a chance to assist in larger crises provides volunteers like Design Tech sophomore Ian Brozek an opportunity to be a part of larger movements. Whether assisting Ukrainian refugees or helping California recover from fire season, Brozek and his fellow volunteers can feel accomplished with the impact they leave. 

“Definitely, in times of crisis, people need help in all kinds of ways and I think that this organization is doing a great job of helping. I especially think it’s 100% effective for the Bay Area because we flooded a few weeks ago,” Brozek said.

Ultimately, the reasons behind gathering volunteers, organizations, and donations for the vast and varied projects boils down to ensuring everyone can feel comfortable in what they are wearing. Relying on the core message of her organization, La Ninfa believes that her position in her relatively small organization can bring so much more to the Bay Area youth. 

“Everyone can understand that really awesome feeling of putting on a pair of new shoes that fits just right, looks cool, and makes you feel great. It’s a huge confidence boost,” La Ninfa said. “The color red is associated with strong emotions: excitement, boldness, and energy. We put that together to say: Everyone deserves to feel that level of awesome every day.”

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About the Contributor
Erik Cheng
Erik Cheng, Scot Scoop Managing Editor
Erik Cheng (Class of 2024) enjoys camping, backpacking, cooking, and photography. He currently serves as Managing Editor of Scot Scoop but continues to explore his passion for discovering local stories and investigation. You can find him discovering new communities in the area, hiking up mountains, desperately trying not to burn down his parents' kitchen, working at REI, or taking photos of the local flora and fauna. View his portfolio here.

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The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.
My New Red Shoes lace up to alleviate Bay Area financial stress