Most men take a bit of time to develop a sense of social responsibility. Some never do, no matter how many billions of dollars they make. But for Jacob Rice, the founder of Florida-based charity Shoe Giver of Tampa, doing social good seems to have been inborn.
Rice is 14 years old, tow-headed and serious for his age. When he was 10, he approached his state’s head of community development:
“I started Shoe Giver because I wanted to make a difference in my community,” he told the Good Men Project. “When I contacted the local CDC and asked what the biggest need of economically disadvantaged kids in our community was, the answer was shoes.”
So Rice set off to contact big-name shoe companies and to ask for donations, then having secured this—mind you, he was 10 years old at the time—measured the feet of local kids to ensure that the shoes would fit.
Rice has since teamed up with Wayne Elsey, founder and CEO of the charity Soles4Souls (which we wrote about several weeks ago, incidentally). The two have worked to expand Rice’s initiative, which has now given away 600 pairs of shoes locally and 740 pairs internationally.
So what does Rice have to say about all of this? We caught up with him—between school and a CNN interview—to ask.
What has been the most challenging about your work so far?
The most challenging part used to be getting new shoes donated to my cause. Thanks to some generous donors and Wayne Elsey from Soles4Souls, I can now get new shoes when I find someone in need.
Would you consider yourself to be a good man? Why or why not?
I consider myself a good man because I work to improve as much as I can in every aspect of life. I also understand how important it is to give back to the community.
What makes a good man in your eyes?
In my eyes, a good man is someone who understands the balance in life between school, family, sports, and work, and one that tries to do the right thing and make the right choices. I also think a good man will always help someone in need.
Who do you consider to be the ultimate good man in your life? Why?
One good man in my life is an English teacher at my school named Christopher Piccone. Mr. Piccone always challenges us to be the best we can be. I truly believe he has found that balance in life.