PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Two Portland-based charity organizations have come together to provide fresh new kicks for kids in and around the Rose City.

One of the organizations, Other 1s Foundation, was founded by Boston native Leah Tavares. Her foundation donates new and used Air Force Ones to children in need.

Tavares has always had a giving spirit, but she was especially inspired to collect Air Force Ones after learning that rapper and producer Dr. Dre has a sneaker closet full of them — and he only wears them once before throwing them away.

“[Air Force Ones] are really a popular pair and just a very prominent pair in our culture,” Tavares said. “I was just like, ‘I want to take that sneaker and make a whole thing out of it, collect just those and donate just those so people can pay attention and be like, ‘Wow, I’m a little wasteful. I’m wearing these one time and then throwing them away.’”

The Other 1s Foundation was started in October 2020, but it didn’t get its Portland roots until Tavares moved to the city to work in advertising in January 2021.

This past summer is when Tavares connected with fellow charity organization founder Sidney Walker. Walker grew up in the Washington, D.C., area, where he says students had to be ‘fly’ to go to school.

“You’ve probably got kids that are wearing the same pair of shoes all year,” he said. “So one thing that brought me back to that was, ‘Oh, I would love to find a way to get some shoes out to folks, whether it’s via donations or even if it’s brand new shoes, and that’s kind of how I birthed the idea.”

Walker established his own nonprofit Sidewalk PDX in 2019 but relocated to Portland just two years ago. While Other 1s Foundation focuses on Air Force Ones specifically, Sidewalk PDX donates all types of sneakers to children who need them most.

Even though the organizations’ respective founders are Portland transplants, both Walker and Tavares have done a lot for the local community before and after joining forces in the summer of 2022.

Being based in the Portland area, the home of Nike and Adidas headquarters, has also supported the two founders in their mission to donate shoes.

“When I first got started and [was] reaching out to a few folks, they were like, ‘Oh, I know somebody that works at Nike or oh, I know somebody who works at Adidas,’” Walker said. “I wouldn’t have gotten that back home… So here, that’s what definitely gave me a launchpad super fast.”

He and Tavares have had shoe giveaways at several Portland schools and events, which they advertise on the Sidewalk PDX and Other 1s Foundation Instagrams. But the giveaways don’t stop there.

Tavares’s family is from Cape Verde, Africa, where she donated Air Force Ones last summer and will be donating them again during an upcoming trip.

“Nothing beats giving back to your own people,” she said. “As we were handing them out, people [were] just so thankful and grateful and trying on the sneakers. And if it didn’t fit, they were chucking it across like, ‘Okay, you try it on. How does it fit?’ And then when it fits somebody, everyone’s cheering. The older women were just praying over me and praising me… It is such a big deal for so many people.”

You can support Tavares and Walker’s charity organizations by sharing their social media posts, donating shoes at any upcoming events, reaching out about a potential sponsorship or donating money at the links below.

“You’re doing something that’s bigger than you. You’re trying to give back to a bigger cause,” Walker said.