By Tammy Allison
Jade Scott of Montpelier may only be thirteen years old, but she is changing the world one pair of shoes at a time. At the age of nine, Jade watched a Disney commercial of a girl’s story of receiving shoes for a community drive rather than birthday gifts. It inspired her and stirred something inside of her. Jade felt compelled to start a similar movement within her own local community of Montpelier, and HUGs (Help Us Give Shoes) was born. With the assistance of her mother Jaimi Geren, she began organizing efforts for shoe donations for those in need.
The referrals and requests for children needing shoes come from schools and various community organizations. They explain that while the initial requests are often for children, many times, it extends into fulfilling the needs of the entire family. Jaimi leads the marketing efforts. “I generally make the initial contact because often the requests are taken more serious from an adult,” she explains. As the requests for shoes are received, Jade then finds the correct sizes of shoes and socks. Recently,HUGs changed its name to Just for Kickz to allow Jade to apply for grants to help in the collection of shoes and socks for people who need them.
In addition to Jade’s noble cause, she also has been participating in pageants since the age of 8. The two passions in her life complement one another in that by participating in pageants, it provides a platform for Jade to share about Just for Kickz. Jade began doing pageants in her hometown of Montpelier. These titles have allowed her opportunities to do fundraisers for her shoe donations. Currently, she holds the title of Miss Teen Montpelier.
Jade has also competed in pageants at the national level. This summer, Jade competed in the Miss American Royalty National Pageant August 4-6th in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The Miss American Royalty USA pageant is built upon Christian values and family.
Jade’s nonprofit organization, Just for Kickz, was the platform for this year’s pageant. Jade’s mother shared that the national director of the pageant loved what Jade is doing through her organization. Pageant contestants could earn points towards the Humanitarian title for donating shoes. Jade came home with a 6 x 13 trailer full of boxes of shoes that were donated.
The pageant competition included several different avenues for competition. Jade shared that she sang a Carrie Underwood song for the talent portion. During the formal wear segment, she wore a gown, walked the stage, and was asked a question. Her question was about what she wants to be when she grows up. Jade shared, “I told them a conservation biologist. I have an uncle who is in Australia studying Tanzanian devils, only I would like to study monkeys.” She also competed in an interview section.
Jade shared that she competed against three other girls. When she received the news that she had won the title, she said, “I’m not really sure how to explain how I felt. I was really, really excited.” In addition to the title Junior Miss American Royalty USA, Jade also received the award of top interview for her age group, top talent for her age group, and National Spokesmodel.
Why is winning this pageant so significant to Jade? “Without a title, I’m normal thirteen year old Jade. With this title, I have a bigger voice and adults will take me more serious,” she shares.
When Jade references having a bigger voice, she is speaking on behalf of those she seeks to help with something so many of us take for granted- a decent pair of shoes. Jade already has some fundraising events planned. On Saturday, September 23rd, she will host the Miss Kickz Fundraiser Pageant at the Church of Christ in West Unity, Ohio at 2 pm. This is an annual fundraiser for Just for Kickz to collect new socks and new and gently used shoes for those in need. Queen and community service Queens will automatically be qualified to compete in the Miss American Royalty USA nationals next summer.
When she’s not changing the world through shoes or participating in pageants, Jade who is a 7th grader at Montpelier Junior High, enjoys participating in junior high football and basketball cheerleading as well as playing softball. She has one younger brother Alex who is 10 and an older brother Zach who is 17.
Since Jade first started her organization, she has collected over 7,000 pairs of shoes and has raised over $15,000 through various fundraisers including the WBNO/WBQT Blizzard Auction. They have also applied for grants through various organizations including Kohl’s and Disney and work the gates at the county fair. For Jade, helping others is simply who she is. “Being a Christian is a big part of my life. Helping out in my community is something I want to do often.” While Just for Kickz accepts gently used shoes, Jade’s dream is to someday be able to provide all new shoes.
If you are interested in contributing towards Jade’s cause, Just for Kickz, you can send donations to PO Box 391, Montpelier, Ohio or call Jaimi Geren at 419-212-4679. Also, on Saturday, October 14th, you can join the Just for Kickz efforts at a shoe cleaning party from 10:30-3:00 at 11964 County Road K, Montpelier.
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