COLLEGE STATION, Texas — A jar full of money sits in the room of 14-year-old Kate Hinckley. While other kids might be saving up for the latest iPhone or clothes, Kate is saving her money for a family in California in desperate need of help, using her creative talent to make unique shoes.
Kate, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was never really into art when she was younger and says she didn't have a knack for it. That all changed the moment she stepped into her eighth grade art class earlier this year.
“I was never really a good artist when I was younger, but my art teacher has really helped me have a love for art,” Kate said in a video for the College Station Independent School District. “I love to really just doodle and draw to make stuff.”
Kate’s doodling turned into beautiful designs, and she brainstormed a way to use this talent. Together with her parents, Shane and Amy Hinckley, they decided to see what Kate could do with a white pair of tennis shoes. Amy came home one day and surprised Kate with her first pair of shoes and told her to “just go at it.”
“So I just created a pattern and drew it on the shoe and it turned out really well,” Kate told AggielandMormons.org.
Kate posted a picture of the shoes to her Instagram page and a friend asked if they were for sale. Kate decided to sell her first pair for $25 and the eighth grader already knew how she wanted to spend the money.
“My grandma and grandpa are on an LDS mission in Southern California,” Kate said. “They told us a story about a family they are helping who are going through really hard times. The story just really touched my heart, and I decided to do something to help them.”
Amy and Shane assumed Kate would wear her first pair of shoes, but she told them she wanted to donate all of her profits from her shoes to this family in California. Her parents were stunned.
“Totally on her own Kate said, ‘I want to give whatever money I make to that family.’ It was really neat,” Amy said. “She had no desire to keep the money at all.”
Through friends, family and word of mouth, Kate has made and sold seven pairs of shoes, which currently sell for $35, and that includes the shoes themselves. Kate is planning on turning this hobby into a little side business and will call it “Kate’s Kicks for Charity,” with a Facebook page coming soon.
Amy says Kate has always had a soft heart for those in need.
“She is the eternal fighter for the underdog,” Amy said. “She will not stick up for herself but if she is at school, and there are kids making fun of other kids, she will stick up for the loneliest kid at the school and tell them to stop. ... She’s always ready to fight very vocally and very loudly for whoever is not getting treated right.”
Kate's friend wore her shoes to school and caught the attention of her art teacher, who told the principal. College Station Independent School District decided to make a video spotlighting Kate and her desire to give the money to charity. The video has spurred more orders for shoes from complete strangers.
The jar in Kate's room is slowly filling up with money. She hopes she will make enough to buy a desperately needed bed for the California family's son with special needs.
"I love to do it," Kate said. "I love to draw on them and sell them and see people wear my work. I think I will continue this for a long time."
It takes about two weeks for Kate to finish the shoes, between school, activities and soccer. Kate can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor's note: This post by Tracie Snowder originally appeared on Aggieland Mormons. It has been reprinted here with permission. All photos copyright Tracie Snowder 2014.