Member name: Tony Berti
Occupation: Co-Founder & Dir of Strategic Operations Goodie Two Shoes Foundation
Las Vegas resident since: 1997
Favorite thing about One Nevada: Local, community credit union. Great customer service.
Q: Can you tell us about the Goodie Two Shoes Foundations and how it got started?
My wife, Nikki, and I started the Goodie Two Shoes Foundation in 2003, with the simple premise that we wanted to outfit children in need with new shoes.
GTS was patterned after a similar but much simpler event put on by the NFL's San Diego Chargers. Tony and Nikki volunteered at the event annually when Tony played for the Chargers from 1995 to 1998. Upon retirement from the NFL in 2001, Tony and Nikki brought the concept home to Las Vegas, improved upon it and grew it into one of the top children's charitable events in the city! Tony and Nikki continue to be passionate about this organization and deeply committed to its success. They have overseen, nurtured and encouraged the organization's growth from its humble beginnings as a one-day event benefiting 225 children from a single Boys & Girls Club in 2003, to its current status as a nationally-recognized 501c3 charitable organization with the goal of reaching nearly 10,000 Las Vegas children in need annually.
The mission of the Goodie Two Shoes Foundation is to provide disadvantaged children and children in crisis with new shoes and socks as well as other items deemed essential for good health and positive development. GTSF strives reach 10,000 Southern Nevada children in need annually, via 25 scheduled shoe distribution events hosted September through May of each school year. Each child receives a new pair of shoes and six pairs of socks, on-site at their school or referring organization location.
Each year, GTSF identifies 10,000 of the most-needy children in the Clark County School District! The children, qualified through the free and reduced lunch program, are each paired with a community volunteer and empowered with the opportunity to select any pair of shoes of their choice from our mobile shoe-store-on-wheels. Some of the children in the program have NEVER had a new pair of shoes of their own much less experienced the empowerment of having the opportunity to make an unrestrained choice.
In October 2013, we outfitted our 40,000th Southern Nevada child in need. We outfitted 20,000 children in our first nine years, and another 20,000 in the last two.
Q: What ages do you serve?
GTSF serves children age Pre-K through 12th grade, referred by schools, social service agencies and other nonprofit organizations dedicated to assisting children in need. Any school child on the free or reduced lunch program qualifies for our programming as well as any low-income child in crisis.
Q: What makes Goodie Two shoes different from others?
We don't just hand a child a pair of new shoes. We measure their feet on-site to ensure proper fit. We pair them one-on-one with a community volunteer whom takes a special interest and walks them through the process. We make them the center of attention, and we empower them with choice; by giving them the opportunity to select any pair of shoes from our large traveling inventory of high-quality athletic shoes, just like the ones their friends at school might be wearing.
Q: Who provides all the shoes? Does the organization purchase them at discounted prices or are they all donated?
GTSF works directly with manufacturers and retailers to secure our product. Some of our product is donated and some of it is purchased at a flat pre-negotiated rate. Our goal is to outfit each child with new shoes and six pairs of socks, on-site at their school for $25 per participant.
Q: Do you accept shoe donations from the public and if so, is there a list of what's needed on your website or is any shoe accepted? Do you accept only new shoes?
GTSF does accept brand new, boxed and tagged sneakers in sizes youth 11 through adult 12. However, we encourage interested donors to instead consider making a monetary donation because we can outfit a child on-site at their school with new name-brand, quality athletic shoes of their choice and six pairs of socks for just $25. That's far less than what someone would spend on their own securing product at a local retailer.
Q: How does a family in need reach out to your foundation or where do they go to obtain shoes for their children in need?
The cost for GTSF to outfit one child on-site with new shoes and socks is approximately $25 per participant, or $2500 per 100. Our ideal distribution model allows us to outfit 400 children in need at each of 25 Friday distribution events scheduled each school year September through May. Schools which have business partners willing to help offset the costs of a distribution fast-track to available distribution dates. Schools which rely on GTSF to provide full funding for their event are placed on our school waiting list.
Our primary goal is to serve as many Title 1 schools as possible each year, and we work very hard to secure funding on behalf of those waitlisted schools. But, the wait time can often be as long as 6 to 18 months depending on our funding success and how quickly the overall event calendar fills. We schedule the schools on our waitlist in order of contact but we also take into consideration Title 1 status, school demographics, administration cooperation and how much time they've spent on the waitlist. In addition, schools which have never been a GTSF host site are weighted slightly heavier than schools which have benefitted from our programming previously. Schools are only eligible for our services once every 13 months.
GTSF rarely accepts referrals from individuals, and we don't typically outfit individual children or families. Instead, we work directly with other nonprofit groups, social services agencies, school counselors, principals and the CCSD partnership office to identify large organized groups of children and/or schools, which would benefit most from our large-scale shoe distribution events.
Q: Do you have a store front or is everything done with the mobile shoe unit?
We have a warehouse facility but all of our programming is done on-site at local schools during the school day.
Q: What has been the most challenging part of running the foundation?
Juggling supply line issues, warehouse inventory, fundraising events and 25 distributions outfitting up to 10,000 children.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your role at the Goodie Two Shoes Foundation?
Every smiling face and all the dancing feet.