CHICAGO — Brandon Cox is proving you don’t need a big fancy foundation or star-studded gala to make your mark.
For the last five years, he’s been touching lives with just two things: a box full of shoes, and a desire to make a difference on the streets he grew up on through Kicks4Joy.
“They say to me…Man, why are you doing this? I tell them my family planted that seed in my heart. It all started at home,” Cox said.
For pretty much all his life, home has been on the same block of South Menard. But over the years, the Austin High School basketball standout watched the neighborhood he loves change.
“I see a lot of things that’s negative and people struggling,” Cox said.
Five years ago, the neighborhood guy known for his giant presence and huge smile wanted to do something equally big for the people struggling to make it on the streets. It started with his car, and a trunk packed with shoes.
“I ride around and if I see somebody that’s homeless or in need… I pull, over and open my trunk,” Cox said. “I got pretty much every size shoe you can imagine. Tell them, take what you need; you can have it!”
During one of the coldest stretches this winter, Cox gave away 600 pairs of shoes. Brandon’s mom Karla said, “He just amazes me.”
“I had Brandon when I was just 15. He taught me what true love was, and now here he is showing the whole city how to love and give back,” Karla said.
Brandon has lost count of the number of donated shoes he’s collected and passed out over the years, but he says every time he passes someone on the streets with a new pair of kicks, it brings him joy.
“We hear so many negative things about Chicago, but there’s a lot of great people in the city,” Cox said.
If you want to donate shoes, he has a box set up outside the Cricket store at Brickyard Plaza along 2650 north Narraganset.