Some Shoes for Thought


 Hello! Our names are Pranav Sreekumar and Jon Solomon and we are the co-founders of the non-profit organization called Shoes 4 Thought. In our enterprise, we collect new or lightly used clothing, shoes, socks, etc. for elementary kids in communities where lack of those items can lead to a child not attending school. We bundle up donations into individual care packages for children. Once we have enough of these care packages created, we go to under-resourced schools around the area and provide them to students as an incentive to attend school on a daily basis. We are teaming up with Natalie DuBose from Natalie’s Cakes and More since she works closely with some schools that would benefit greatly from a program like Shoes 4 Thought.

Launching this enterprise means we've had various ups and downs. One of the things that we had trouble figuring out was how to  generate a consistent intake of donations. We contacted several churches and elementary schools around our area but, unfortunately, had very little success. As a result, we asked our co-working space, where we hold our WIT class, whether we could set up a donation box, but they said that would not be possible at this time. 

Despite disappointment that our first ideas did not work, we decided to implement a new strategy for collecting donations. We thought we might have more success if we were to give people a ‘Shoes 4 Thought’ drawstring bag for people to fill with donated clothes.  We felt these bags demonstrate our own investment and belief in this idea to collect clothing for kids who need it most.  We launched this strategy at a big event WIT hosted called Where Are We Now (WAWN) before a room filled business leaders, community leaders, educators and families. We were able to distribute our bags to a broad range of attendees who were eager to help us out after hearing our pitch.  Along with the bags, we gave people our business cards so they could contact us when they wanted us to collect the bags from them. 

Do you want a bag? Are you interested in supporting our efforts?
Here’s how you can help: 

*If you are in the St. Louis area, please help us collect clothing items for elementary kids. Once you have donations ready, please email us at and we will coordinate a pick up with you.  St. Louis residents can also help us connect with any other schools who you feel would benefit from a program like ours.  

Thank you for taking the time to learn about Shoes 4 Thought and for your support in our efforts to keep kids motivated and excited to attend school. You can follow along our journey at our instagram page @shoes4thought

Hello! My name is Pranav Sreekumar and I am a junior at Marquette High School. W.I.T. gives me the opportunity to reach out and connect with the St. Louis community. One of the reasons that I joined WIT was to gather the courage to go outside my comfort zone and to give back to the St. Louis community. Through our enterprise, Shoes 4 Thought, I believe Jon, my business partner, and I are striving to provide a foundation for the youth in St. Louis by providing the resources that they may be lacking like clothing, shoes, (etc).

Hey everyone! My name is Jon Solomon, and I am a senior at Lafayette High School in St. Louis, Missouri. Through W.I.T, I have been able to find a great group of teens, like myself, looking to do good for our community. The reason I wanted to join W.I.T was the fact that I was always interested in business, and I wanted to explore further into the social entrepreneurship world. Our non-profit organization, Shoes 4 Thought, has allowed my partner Pranav and I to work to improve the lives of our St. Louis youth.We are working to give them the clothes that they need, while at the same time boosting their self esteem.

Why you should "Chip In"

Writer, musician, entrepreneur. My name is Jack Deubner and I'I a senior at Lafayette High School in Wildwood Missouri. This is my first year on WIT with my Chip In project I've started in memory of my brother.  Born STL, living STL. 

Writer, musician, entrepreneur. My name is Jack Deubner and I'I a senior at Lafayette High School in Wildwood Missouri. This is my first year on WIT with my Chip In project I've started in memory of my brother. 
Born STL, living STL. 

Talking is what got me to where I am.

I'm not famous, rich, popular, or whatever else would throw me higher on some hierarchical totem pole. This is just where I am in my life and I'm happy with it. Talking is also what got your favorite actor, musician, comedian, writer,  to wherever they are today. It's an important factor in everyone's life, yes, everyone.

Chip, my brother, was a huge talker. Whether you just met him or if you knew him for years, if you sat him down and got him talking it was hard to get the guy to shut up. Chip passed on July 9th 2016 after thirty two years of talking, moving, laughing and memory making. He was never really around while I was growing up, he was sixteen when I was born and just getting ready to head off to college. But whenever he was in town from college, or wherever he lived at the time (probably New York City or St. Louis), I spent almost every waking moment with him chatting up storms. He’d take me to downtown St. Louis showing me loads of cool things I've never seen before and (of course) telling me plenty of stories along the way. It became pretty common for me to get amped up about Christmastime just knowing that Chip would be coming home.

When Chip got sick, he moved home with us. This was the first time Chip and I lived together and I wasn't, you know, a child. Of course the sickness was awful, cancer sucks, hospitals suck, doctors suck, but seeing Chip all the time was amazing. This is really where the idea for Chip In comes into play. Chip would ask me questions that would spark up stories of my own and I’d share him little tidbits of my life growing up. Chip In is a centerpiece book that centers around these questions and shares them with others, opening up those conversations that me and Chip had with others. It’ll open up those long conversations, similar to what Chip strived toward and build or strengthen your relationships with others. I want other people to have as strong as a relationship that my brother and I had. Being able to tell stories about your friend or family member to others really shows that you know them.

So, talk to others, share your stories, listen to others, learn to casually converse, like Chip did.