Community Giving
2:27 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

A Perfect Fit: UIW Student Gets Shoes To Those In Need

Eric Castillo and his organization, A Walk in My Shoes, has made it a mission to find shoes to fit everybody who needs a pair in San Antonio, and the 500 pairs of shoes he delivered to SAMMinistries on Friday is just part of the story.

As Linda Castillo’s granddaughter contentedly plays with her stuffed turtle in front of the family’s home on a pleasant Friday afternoon, Grandma is sorting thousands of shoes so that her son, Eric Castillo, a UIW football player, can load them into his SUV to deliver to the SAMM Transitional Living Center.

"These are for different kinds of sports, like track and soccer, and he keeps those separate. And I've put the women's shoes together in a bag," she said.

"We ended up collecting 500 pairs of shoes in our first shoe drive," Castillo said. "And so we had our second shoe drive at John Marshall High School, and that was on Aug. 4. We ended up collecting 1400 pairs of shoes in a four-hour period."

One weekend in Austin, Castillo noticed the need for shoes among the homeless and decided he had to do something; he said this is when he had the idea for collecting gently-used shoes for San Antonio’s homeless and others in need.

In the last six months he has distributed more than 5,000 pairs of shoes.

"So we ended up working with four of the five Boys and Girls Clubs here in San Antonio. And we got in touch with Pam Taylor of Dress For Success. We worked with her and gave them a lot of women's shoes and heels so people could apply for jobs," he said.

SAMM Ministries Vice-President of Development Tammy Woodard said that thanks to the generous support of the community, the kids returned from school Friday to find comfortable shoes – that they liked.

In the nearly seven months that he has been doing this, Castillo said he’s learned a great deal about gratitude.

"Just being grateful for what you have," he said. "Especially going out there and, like at the Boys and Girls Clubs, you see children with the soles coming off their shoes. You have to understand some of these people don't have a choice, I mean, that's just how it is. And when we go do drop-offs downtown, you have individuals wearing size 6-1/2 when they should be in 9s, and how their toes are cramped up."

Castillo has applied for a non-profit status for A Walk In My Shoes, and plans to continue to grow the organization after college.