Chandler teen raising money for school’s sneakers The Chandler Arizonan

Chandler teen raising money for school’s sneakers

November 3rd, 2020 Chandler Arizona Staff
Chandler teen raising money for school’s sneakers

By Kevin Reagan
Arizonan Staff Writer

A Hamilton High School student is aiming to raise $23,000 by the end of this year in order to buy every student at Galveston Elementary a new pair of sneakers.

Sam Bregman, 16, has already raised an accumulated $7,600 of the money he needs to purchase 650 pairs of shoes and hopes to collect the remaining funds by Dec. 11.

“I would like to have all the funds ready by that time so that I can purchase the shoes and have the sneakers to the kids by the holidays,” Sam said.

Sam has partnered with Shoes That Fit, a national nonprofit that’s provided two million pairs of shoes to American children, to ensure every Galveston student will be fitted with shoes specific to their size and supply them with several pairs of socks.

“They not only get a new pair of sneakers but a pair of sneakers they can truly enjoy,” the teenager said. “I’ve always been very interested in sneakers and I’ve had a passion for helping other people as well.”

He got his inspiration for the philanthropic project – the biggest Sam has taken on – a few years ago when his math class sponsored holiday gifts for needy families.

Sam picked out a family asking for new shoes and quickly gathered together some cash to buy a nice pair of sneakers.

“Doing this filled me with so much joy and happiness,” he recalled, “I thought, ‘Why not do this on a larger scale?’”

Sam put the project off for the next couple years as he continued focusing on his studies and extracurricular activities.

But then the pandemic came along earlier this year and he suddenly had more spare time to devote to his passion projects.

The pandemic had been causing a great deal of turmoil in the community, Sam noted, and it seemed like residents needed something positive to boost their spirits.

He was simultaneously suffering from a medical ailment that frequently gave him dizzy spells and was feeling gratitude for all the doctors who helped him recover.

“I want to make good things happen and give back to other people,” Sam said.

Sneakers seemed like the perfect gift to offer children and Sam thinks a new pair could have a long-term impact on Galveston’s students.

According to data collected by Shoes That Fit, new shoes have been found to raise a child’s self-esteem by 87 percent and their physical activity by 70 percent.

“When you put those sneakers on for the first time, you stand up tall (and) you feel very confident,” Sam said. “I think it will improve physical activity, attendance, and behavior.”

Although he graduated from Tarwater Elementary, Sam specifically selected Galveston after mentoring some of the school’s students at a soccer camp.

He discovered that many of Galveston’s students walk to school and some can’t afford to regularly buy new shoes.

“Galveston is a walking school which basically means there is no bus transportation,” he said. “Almost all the students walk to school.”

Galveston is also one of the Chandler Unified School District’s Title I schools – meaning it qualifies for federal aid due to a high number of students from low-income families.

During the first few weeks Sam spent soliciting donors, he managed to raise about $750. His donations suddenly escalated over a few days after a local TV station profiled his project.

The thousands of dollars that came flooding in after the news story aired was shocking, he said, and fortified him to follow through on his mission.

“I was so overwhelmed with joy and happiness,” he said. “It was truly unbelievable.”

The project is potentially offering Sam a taste of what he’d like to do after finishing high school – becoming a tech entrepreneur.

Sam said he aspires to launch his own startup company and is not intimidated by the prospect of having to start something from nothing.

Asking strangers for help and money to buy all these shoes has been a great learning lesson, Sam said, because it has taught him how to be resilient in the face of rejection.

In order to collect the remaining $15,000, Sam intends to reach out to Arizona’s local sports teams and apply for grant funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Monetary donations can be submitted online by visiting

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