Rochester youth helps others by giving away sneakers before school

Zaire Downs lying in the middle of 50 donated sneakers he plans to give away - so kids can have some new-ish shoes for school (WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. - Kids will be heading back to school in the next two weeks. One Rochester 7th grader is already thinking about his classmates.

Zaire Downs,13, loves nothing more than shooting hoops - and a rocking a fresh pair of kicks.

But not all kids are as fortunate as he is.

“It's this boy in my school who gets bullied because he doesn't have nice shoes," said Zaire.

So, he started a sneaker drive to as a way to prevent bullying and give kids confidence.

“I feel bad for some kids who can’t afford them," he said.

During the month of August, Downs collected 50 pairs of Nikes, Adidas and Jordans.

"All sizes, mostly kids though," he said.

This 7th grader also raised $310 dollars through a GoFundMe account to buy four students a pair of shoes.

“Some of the families told us they needed them because they were dealing with domestic violence,” Downs said. “So we’re going to help them out.”

His mother, Tamara Leigh, said they're looking forward it.

"They gave us their sizes, favorite colors and ages. So, on Saturday, we'll go out and purchase some brand new shoes from the store, which we're so excited about."

Leigh said she isn't surprised that her son enjoys helping others.

"He's so empathetic and compassionate," said his mother. "He's always been the kid who'd befriend the most popular kids and least popular kid."

When Downs grows up, he hopes to play for the NBA or go into politics, as some people have suggested.

Downs will distribute the sneakers at a book bag giveaway this Saturday at the Thomas P. Ryan Center at 530 Webster Avenue from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Anyone wanting to donate or volunteer are asked to call 210-8841.

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