Godsgift Shoe Drive: Providing Resources for Home

February 2, 2022

When Godsgift “GG” Ezedinma realized how many shoes in America were not being used, he started collecting as many as possible to send to his childhood home

Godsgift "GG" Ezedinma playing basketball at UIWIt is not uncommon for high school and college students to purchase shoes for their personal collections, but Godsgift “GG” Ezedinma, a sophomore on the University of the Incarnate Word men’s basketball team, is gathering shoes for a different purpose. He grew up in Enugu, Nigeria, and access to a decent pair of shoes was hard to come by. That never stopped Ezedinma, or the friends he grew up with, from using what they had to play the sports they loved. Now, he’s working to ensure that as many children in Nigeria as possible have access to resources that he didn’t have growing up.

“Back home, we play with whatever is on our feet,” explained Ezedinma. “It doesn't matter. Slides. Some socks. No shoes. You know a lot of kids love the game back home, and it's not just basketball. This is sports in general.

“And we play outside on concrete, so the shoes wear out fast. We never complain, we go fix them up. Use them, the next day they break. We go back and fix them up. Come back. It's never an excuse of not having something to play with. But once you give a kid at least two pairs or three of pairs of shoes and they rotate them out, that shoe might last two years for them.”

When Ezedinma arrived in the United States to start high school, he was surprised at how many shoes many people in America have. He remembers seeing his foster brother’s room and asking him how many Godsgift "GG" Ezedinma and a group of friends on the basketball court in Nigeria different people used the shoes on his shoe rack. When Ezedinma learned the shoes were for one person, and that many of the shoes were not even worn, he was shocked.

“I was so overwhelmed when I saw all the shoes and how they don't even take care of their shoes, they just do whatever with it and throw them away,” said Ezedinma. “It hurts my heart … because when I was in Nigeria and someone came back from the U.S. and gave me a pair of shoes, I know how I felt. I felt like I wanted to go to practice that moment that I got the shoes, to go show them off, for one, and just go play in them.”

Ezedinma says he has learned that cultures can be different from where he grew up, and he now understands that people value things differently in various parts of the world. For someone who did not grow up with luxuries like shoes, he sees that piece of apparel as something more precious.

“I actually have gone to the trash, and I saw shoes in there and I took them out and cleaned them up and saved them, because I know where I come from, those are treasures, and people are taking it for granted. I don't blame them, that's all they know. But I've been collecting them.”

During his freshman year of high school, Ezedinma started collecting shoes in a venture which is now called Godsgift’s Shoe Drive. He asked his teammates to stop throwing away their shoes, and to give them to him instead. Now that he is in college, he has more time and freedom, as well as a bigger platform, to be able to gather shoes.

At UIW, the community has started to rally around him, and he estimates that he now has upwards of 100 pairs of shoes to donate.

Godsgift "GG" Ezedinma and a group of friends holding basketballs on the basketball court in Nigeria“My coaches have been so supportive and have always helped me talk to the right people,” said Ezedinma. “And my teammates, also, when I told them about the idea, they were all in with it and they gave me all their old shoes. People were giving me like 10 pairs of shoes, six pairs of shoes. I even got people from the volleyball team, girls from the softball team, some random students. People texting me ‘I have some shoes for you,’ which is so amazing.”

Ezedinma was recently featured on the local NBC-TV affiliate, WOAI, for his efforts. As word continues to spread, he is thankful for support he has received. Ultimately, he wants to collect all types of athletic gear to send home, but in the immediate future, his goal is to start sending shoes home within the next few weeks.

“I started with collecting shoes, because the biggest problem that we have is shoes,” said Ezedinma. “But to be honest, I want to collect everything collectible. Shoes, basketballs, clothes and gear. Everything collectible, but you know you have to start somewhere. I just want them to have their resources.”

For those interested in making a donation, please contact UIW Director of Men’s Basketball Operations Zach Taylor at ztaylor@uiwtx.edu.