Christina Preston '11 (Anthropology)

Preston hits her stride with nonprofit

Christina Preston
After the journey she’s made, Christina Preston wishes everyone had a chance to walk a mile in her shoes.

“If someone were to ask me 10 years ago where I would be now I would have never thought I’d be here,” says Preston. “I was working dead-end jobs. Growing up, life was not ideal. Being able to go to college was never a possibility, but Sac State made it easier for me in many ways. I never expected to get the education that I did.”

Preston is the Sac State Alumni Association’s Rising Star Award recipient for 2013. She’s not only built a promising career for herself, she founded Shoes 4 Sacramento—a charity that is making a difference in the lives of homeless and underprivileged people in the region. Preston didn’t originally intend to establish a nonprofit organization, but is heading in that direction as she saw a need and found an efficient way to meet it.

“I was collecting shoes for Soles to Souls, which is an international disaster relief non-profit, and I saw a flier for Homeless Connect at Amador Hall,” Preston explains. “They need volunteers for a one-day event. I contacted them and said, ‘I’ve been collecting shoes for a long time. Do you need a shoe provider?’ And they said, ‘Actually we’ve been looking for one for quite some time.’”

Preston showed up with hundreds of shoes at the 2010 Homeless Connect event and they were hugely appreciated by those in need.

“It was probably the most inspiring moment of my life,” Preston says. “It seems like just a simple pair of shoes, but you’re dealing with people who don’t have them or have been wearing shoes that are too small. Some people are trying to find jobs and can’t afford to buy nice shoes.”

Preston is aiming to collect as many as 2,000 pairs of shoes this year and she will team up with local organizations to distribute them. Her efforts got a big boost in 2012 when she was nominated for a Hometown Hero award and partnered with Kops-n-Kids to provide shoes for its participants.

“The project’s gotten much bigger since we’ve gotten media attention,” she says. “It’s branching out. I’ve always done a lot of donation drives and volunteer work but this has been my pride and joy since last year.”

Preston’s passion for helping people extends to her career. She works in the Department of Anthropology at Sac State as an assistant on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. She is taking classes toward earning her certification in tribal law from UCLA and has applied to graduate school to study social work.