COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - South Carolina women's basketball coach Dawn Staley is hoping to make a difference one sole at a time.
Staley is holding a sneaker drive this week to help needy and homeless children. Staley recently got involved in a project called Inner Sole to help address a critical need.
The coach said she was floored when she recently learned about how many children are part of the homeless population in the Midlands.
"I didn't even know the statistics behind it before I started this initiative, but I'm glad I did," said Staley. "This is something that really resonates with me. I grew up as them. So I want to make sure they have every possibility of being successful."
Staley grew up in the projects of Philadelphia and knows all too well the hardships young people can face in an environment where something as simple as a decent pair of shoes can be hard to get.
"When I got a new pair of sneakers my whole outlook on the world looked a little different. I walked with my head up, my self-esteem raised 100 percent," said Staley. "I was okay walking around with my peers knowing I had a new pair of sneakers. We want to share that feeling."
Staley is also involving her two young nieces in the initiative to teach what she calls "life lessons" about the less fortunate. The group is accepting donations through Thursday of this week from 9am-6pm at the Gamecock practice facility on Blossom Street in Columbia.