WASILLA — The day before the 2019-20 school year started, Distinctive Ride owner Spencer Richardson bought more than 300 shoes, socks and backpacks for low-income students in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District.
“I don’t really do it for the recognition,” Richardson said.
Richardson said this spur of the moment act of kindness just “popped in his head” as he was doing his back to school shopping for his family. He reached out to Famous Footwear. They gave him a discount rate for purchasing the series of items.
The same day he had the idea, Richardson made an announcement on Facebook and dozens of families showed up. Children were allowed to pick two items out of three options: a pair of shoes, socks or a backpack. He said the Famous Footwear staff very helpful during the process.
“They did a really nice job for us,” Richardson said.
Richardson said that he was born and raised in the Valley. Growing up, budgets were tight so new shoes were few and far in-between. He said that he knows how important shoes are for students, especially having a nice new pair for the school year.
“I think I have a little bit of guilt about my success because I really grew up super poor,” Richardson said.
In 2010, he became a full-time business owner.
“I’m not rich but I’m comfortable you know? My family’s comfortable,” Richardson said.
Richardson said that a parent told him that her child received their first pair of new shoes thanks to him. He said that’s what the event was all about, helping the children in his community who needed it most.
“This is my community… It’s home,” Richardson said.
This shoe giveaway is one of Richardson’s numerous philanthropic endeavors that are hyper-focused on the Valley. Each year he donates a portion of remote start sales on Black Friday to the Mat-Su Food Bank. He also sets aside a large check for the Mat-Su Special Santa program every Christmas.
Richardson said that he would like to do another shoe giveaway next year, ideally with an appropriate community partner.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at email@example.com