It was no surprise that 12 year old Alex Bramble of Flanders asked for new shoes again for the holidays, but when he asked for pairs – not for himself- but rather for orphaned boys, the news knocked his mom off her feet!
“Every year near the holidays, I ask Alex for his wish list,” says his mom, Kristi Rexroth. “For the past several years he has asked for shoes. Alex couldn’t care less about brands or styles of clothing, but athletic shoes are his thing. He loves the Nikes and the high tops.”
Rexroth explains, “This year I asked for his list and expected the same- shoes! After a couple of days, Alex got back to me and said ‘I was thinking about my list and I decided I don’t need anything; There are always things I want, but have more than I need,’” she explains.
“I really like shoes; I really want shoes, but I don’t need shoes,” says Alex, who currently owns four pairs of athletic basketball sneakers. A football player for Mt. Olive recreation for the past seven years, Alex has a fetish for basketball sneakers and would have liked the Nike Hyperdunks, he says, but he had a better idea in mind.
“This year, rather than spending money on me, would you use that money to buy shoes for kids who can’t afford them?” Alex asks his mom.
After researching local charity options, they found St. Peters Orphanage, a residential home for boys, in Denville and decided “that would be perfect,” says Alex, a seventh grader at Mt. Olive Middle School.
“There’s a big place in my heart for kids who are in an orphanage,” says Alex. “I don’t know my own father,” who lives in Florida. Last time I saw him I was two or three years old. I get what they are going through.”
On Nov. 7, Alex announced his new shoe drive, “Put Your Best Foot Forward.” He and his mom contacted the orphanage and attained a list of each boy who resides at the orphanage and his shoe size. Currently there are 14 boys, ages nine to 17, that live at the orphanage.
After posting his shoe drive on Facebook as well as the list of shoe sizes being sought, people started to immediately pledge. Since his post, 23 shoes have been donated by members of the community, friends of Alex and his mom. Name brands of the athletic shoes include Adidas, Nike, Reebok and DC shoes.
“We have plenty left over,” says Rexroth. Even a pair of slippers and one pair of dress shoes were donated. The extras were given to the orphanage as a surplus to be used as needed.
Out of the shoes donated, Alex gave three pairs “in lieu of me buying him shoes,” says Rexroth. Then Alex used his own money to buy a pair for an orphan.
Alex and his mom delivered the shoes to the orphanage on Friday, Dec. 16. Each child got a new pair of athletic shoes in his size with a card attached from the family that donated it.
Because of the rules with confidentiality, Alex knew he would not be able to meet the recipients of his new shoes. He hopes that he can connect to some of them through letter writing or maybe later as a volunteer in their facility.
“He has a good heart that kid,” says Rexroth. “I was incredibly proud of Alex. He is a normal, typical 12 year old kid but he has a maturity about it, about having gratitude for the blessings that he has. He does have a conscience and a kind giving heart.”
Alex says he feels good when he gives to others.
“It feels really nice,” says Alex, baritone and trumpet player in the MOMS band. “I know a lot of the kids have to go without a lot of things. They will be grateful that they will be getting a new pair of shoes.
“I’ve begun to understand more,” he explains. “My family is not the richest family but we have what we need, but not everyone has that. I thought it would be nice to give rather than get like I normally do.”
Alex credits his upbringing for his kind ways.
“My mom and my step dad are big influences,” says Alex. “They’ve been there for me. They’ve always been nice and kind hearted.”
Rexroth agrees, “We are very civic minded. He’s watched me do a lot of cooking for families. I start cooking food and taking it to families who need it. I grew up with my mom the same way. You just always try to do for others. It’s something that resonates with him.”
Besides being prideful of her son, Rexroth is also “super proud” of being part of a community “that’s willing to lend a helping hand.” Whether it is a house fire, drowning, a child with cancer or donating new shoes, “Our community rallies and they just do it and they help. They, as always, lend a hand, share their good fortune and show their amazing hearts and good will. Alex sees that in our community; it has helped to develop that in him.
“It’s innate in him to have such an awareness toward people who are less fortunate than him,” continues Rexroth. When he sees a homeless man in town, “Alex talks to him, every time he sees him. It touches his heart. It’s what Alex’s heart is made of.”
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