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North Dade students learn "the gift of giving"

caines | 11/29/2012, 5 a.m.

Students give sneakers to those in need North Dade Middle School students flashed that enormous smile, which is usually seen on occasions like Christmas morning. But this time, it wasnt what the children received that made them smile, instead it was what they gave gifts to others. On Nov. 16, North Dade students donated hundreds of new and used shoes to the Orange Bowl Kicks for Kids program, which partnered with Miami-Dade and Broward schools in effort of providing needy children with sneakers to use for exercising and participating in youth sports. There are a lot of kids who dont have a decent pair of shoes to just run outside and have recess, said Latoya Williams, director of community relations at the Orange Bowl. We want to encourage kids to be active, run around, play and have fun, and to make sure they can do that, we came up with this program. Last year, when the program first started, there were 1,000 pairs of shoes donated to the program. Those shoes were later given to children in need at the Greater Miami YMCA. The Orange Bowl got schools involved this time around to teach the kids the gift of giving and to also increase the number of sneakers that were donated, according to Williams. This year, they plan on collecting 1,500 pairs of sneakers. North Dade could possibly win the $2,500 grant that The Orange Bowl will donate to the school that collects the most shoes. In celebration of giving, North Dade students who donated shoes were given a party. In attendance were the Orange Bowl mascot Obie and the Orange Bowl staff. Students walked down the orange carpet and posed with Obie, while giving their sneakers away. Dr. Monica Thurston, International Baccalaureate (IB) coordinator at North Dade, said community service and teaching the importance of contributing to society is a part of their IB program. We gave them an introduction about what community and service is and we tied this in, so now they know, she said. Alecia Johnson, community service leader and Language Arts and reading teacher, said the students responded well to the opportunity. About 300 students gave shoes. Every homeroom had a box and they bought shoes and shoes and shoes, Johnson said. Kearra Holmes, 14, an eighth grader, said giving back to others, made her feel proud. She gave two pairs of shoes, Nikes and flats. In the future, the people we gave to, may give back to us, she said. Kiara Green, 14, another eighth grader, was happy to give five pairs of shoes away, including a new pair of Jordans. She said she had no problem giving away new shoes because if she were in need, she would want someone to do the same for her. I couldnt fit them, she said. And nobody in our house could fit them, so whats the point of wasting them? Ronnie Dunn, 12, a sixth grader, said he gave one pair of Nikes away, after his teacher explained that they would be given to kids who could not afford shoes. It feels like we are making a real impact on the Earth, he said. Antoinette Howard, 11, another sixth grader, also gave five pairs of shoes away. I feel good about myself because I am helping others who cant help themselves, she said, And if you give to others you will receive blessings. By Malika A. Wrightmwright@Miamitimesonline.com