Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, Dec. 11 newspaper on Page B2.

JACKSON — Jackson sophomore Grant Mastin had a huge imprint on the Ironmen’s 11-1 season from his linebacker position.

He racked up 109 tackles (82 solo, 27 assisted), 14 tackles for loss and 11 sacks as he earned first team all-district and honorable mention All-Ohio honors.

While most kids finished the season and prepared for the next sport or extracurricular they participate in, Mastin went a little bit of a different route.

He decided to start a project called “Tackles 4 Tots” and raised a pair of shoes for all 109 tackles that he had during the football season.

“I’d been wanting to go a community service project like this for a long time,” Mastin said. “And I’m a huge sneakerhead so it seemed to fit perfectly. I was talking to Jason Gillam, who is on the board for the Jackson area festivals, and he mentioned that they needed some help in getting shoes for the kids. So I took it upon myself to step up and do it.”

Mastin was told the goal was 103 pair of shoes. But raising a pair for each tackle he had seemed like a much better idea.

With the help of his family, they kept a running tab of shoes per tackle on a game-to-game basis to make sure the goal was reached.

“My grandpa bought a purse to raffle off from River City and everything just took off there,” Mastin said. “We sold a bunch of spots in three hours or so, and it was just great to see the community come out to support everything. There were some people who asked how they could help even after it was over so that was really cool to see.”

Once members of the Jackson community and teammates found out about his project, it was truly game on. However, it wasn’t an easy thing to find out.

This project was something Mastin kept very quiet and to himself. None of his teammates or coaches knew he was doing this. It wasn’t about getting glory or anything like that, he did because he loves his community.

“We weren’t even planning on doing this during the season, but everything sort of just fell into place,” Mastin said. “We put it together quick, and it took off even quicker. It was almost like the universe wanted this to happen.”

After getting a list of sizes for boys and girls, the real fun began for the self-proclaimed sneakerhead.

He raised enough money to buy some shoes so he went to various stories to purchase different pairs while others donated shoes to help his cause.

“During the football season, within out team was the phrase ‘Win for Jackson’,” Mastin said. “That’s something I played with each time I was on the field and I think with raising shoes for kids, it’s another way to win for Jackson.”

As pair among pair of shoes were collected, the overwhelming sense of joy washed over Mastin as he reflected upon what he has helped accomplish.

He officially reached his goal of 109 pairs of shoes a couple weeks ago, with more shoes still being donated left and right.

“You couldn’t help but to be happy with raising all of the shoes, but there was also a sense of amazement, Mastin said. “I’ve always been into shoes, but I never realized how much of a difference something as simple as that can truly make.”

All of those shoes will be sent to the elementary schools in the Jackson, Wellston and Oak Hill communities as part of the project.

What started as a just an idea for a community service project has turned into something Mastin hopes he can continue for the remainder of his high school career.

His goal next year is to have over 110 tackles, meaning more shoes for the kids. But more than anything, he hopes next year that Tackles 4 Tots can extend just beyond the Jackson area.

“Hopefully we continue to get bigger and reach out to other areas outside of Jackson,” Mastin said. “Honestly, it was a lot of fun to just make a difference.”

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