ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - A group of St. Paul Police officers handed out new shoes, water bottles, and basketballs to 40 kids in need on Wednesday at the High School for Recording Arts.
St. Paul Police Officer Tom Reis was working off duty at the school when he noticed many of the students were wearing penny loafers and moccasins while hooping. He asked a coach why they were playing in penny loafers, and the coach said they didn’t have the money to buy actual basketball shoes.
"I just couldn't imagine having these kids play competitively and not have the right equipment," Reis told Fox 9.
The officer then started making calls for generous donors to help with contributions. In less than a day, the police officer was able to raise enough money to buy shoes for all the kids, plus more. Nike even donated $600, and the University Avenue Walmart in St. Paul also contributed.
The students are part of a premier community-based basketball league called Grassroots Hoops Club, started by Brian Sandifer and his father. Sandifer said his number one priority is keeping young men off the streets and in school.
"We probably have about 300 kids that went on to college over the last 10 to 12 years," Sandifer said.
Recently, two were able to get full-ride scholarships for college to play basketball. They’re hoping this new gear might lead to more students getting an opportunity to play.
"They can go out and play and not play in penny loafers in front of college coaches," Reis said.