Wanda Johnson started Benevolent Kicks in December 2019, but it became a officially incorporated on March 16, 2020. In 2019, while doing substitute teaching for 2nd graders, Wanda had taken her class out for recess. It was in December and unusually cold that day. As she walked around the tracks to stay warm, she heard an annoying noise. It resembled the sound of flip-flops.
She knew it was too cold for sandals or flip-flops, and she could not imagine what this noise she heard was. Suddenly, a 2nd-grade boy stood next to her, humming a song. He stopped and spoke to her. Wanda looked down at his feet and noticed that his shoes were making the disturbing noise she heard.
To her surprise, the top of his shoes had separated from the rubber soles. His feet were literally on the ground! Wanda became curious and wondered what had happened to his shoes. She poked along on the tracks, hoping he would walk around again. This way, she could engage him in a conversation. Sure enough, he came around the second time.
Wanda began to probe and ask questions, wondering if he got them caught in the school bus door or if he snagged them on a fence. And the child looked up at her innocently and said, “No, Ma'am. This is the only pair of shoes I have.” As she fought back the tears, she asked if she could buy him a pair of shoes. He said, “Yes, Ma'am.”
Together, they went to find his teacher so she could buy him shoes and get them to the correct classroom. During her lunch break, Wanda left and went to Kohl's. She purchased new shoes for him. Afterward, she couldn’t go to any of the four schools she usually taught without noticing some child who needed a pair of shoes. The experience changed her life forever!