On what might have been one of the coldest day on record, Jan. 6, approximately 50 people, including Mr. and Mrs. Claus, as well as at least half a dozen beauty queens and Mayor Allan Fung and his wife Barbara Ann Fenton, made for a special morning at Panera Bread in Cranston as Cranston Representative Robert Lancia (District 16) and his wife Maryann held their 3rd Annual Hope for the Holidays – a benefit for the Gotta Have Sole Foundation.
Also making an appearance this year was Nicholas Lowinger, of Cranston, who began the Gotta Have Sole Foundation at the age of 12. He just turned 20 this past Christmas. Both his parents, Lori and Danny, were also on hand. To date, the Gotta Have Sole Foundation has donated more than 76,000 pairs of shoes to children in need nationally.
The concept was simple: purchase a pair of brand new sneakers in your own shoe size to be donated to homeless children throughout Rhode Island.
“There was so much love and energy in the room as folks kept stopping by, despite the cold, to support this worthy charity," said Lancia. "Rob Bennett, the General Manager at this Panera Bread location, set aside the back of the restaurant, where the fire was blazing, making for a cozy morning."
43 pairs of new footwear and a dozen pairs of new socks were donated that morning.
“I'm so glad I was home from college to be at the Hope for the Holidays event,” said Nicholas Lowinger. “Representative Lancia, his wife Maryann and everyone who came out on this blustery day to support our cause are truly changing the lives of the homeless children here in Rhode Island.”
“I am touched by my community's compassion and grateful for their support, “said Lowinger.