SPRING VALLEY, Calif. (KGTV) - A high school coach stepped in to help when he noticed some of his students' shoes were getting worn down and donated his own running shoes. He didn't know it, but he started a movement within his Southern California community.
English Teacher David Crabtee took on the role of track and cross country coach a year ago at Monte Vista High School and was able to start holding in-person practice in January.
"Getting them back outside, back amongst their friends, that social interaction. You could really see from week 1 to where we are now, I think their mental health is a lot better... [they're] just happier."
He noticed in the last couple weeks some of his students' shoes were wearing thin, which can be dangerous.
"Oh yeah, the constant pounding and if you’re running on pavement over time, you’re talking knee injuries, shin splints a lot of different things even your back. If you’re running on shoes that are really worn it will take a toll," he said.
So he went looking in his own closet.
"I was taking some of my older shoes and my wife said, 'well where are you taking, what are you doing with them?' I said, 'I have some kids who could use them' and she asked if there were more kids who could use them and I said 'there’s always going to be kids at every school not just our school,'" Crabtree said.
His wife Lara posted on a community social media page asking for donations Thursday morning.
"Within 10 minutes she had this overwhelming response and by yesterday evening we had shoes dropped off at our house," Crabtree said.
More than a dozen pairs of shoes, some athletic wear and hundreds of dollars donated to a GoFundMe page she created.
"I had no clue it would pick up like this not even a little bit," he said shaking his head.
Crabtree was incredibly thankful the community sees the importance of getting his team on the starting blocks, knowing how much it means to his students.
"To see their gratitude, their appreciation for it. It’s sometimes things that maybe we take for granted or don’t think as much about and then you realize a simple act of giving a kid a pair of shoes really changes their self confidence, their self esteem, feeling like they’re part of the team," he said.
Crabtree is working with local shoe shops in hopes of creating a partnership to keep supporting his students and make it easier for them to ask for help.
He said running is his way to find clarity. He believes it teaches students life skills like perseverance.