Retired businessman and his wife care for kids.

Written by Ron Comings

It all started when Bob was growing up. “We didn’t have much, but I remember going to my grandparents’ farm in La Puente, California. The hobos, that’s what we called them back then, would come to the farm looking for a handout. My Grandma Ellis always found a way to feed them. She’d make deviled egg sandwiches and give them potatoes. She never turned anyone away.”

From that experience, Las Vegas businessman Bob Ellis decided, “If I ever have any extra money I’m going to help people.” Now, no discussion of generosity and charitable giving in Southern Nevada would be complete without including the work of Robert and Sandra Ellis.

Over the years, Bob has donated more than one million dollars to various non-profit organizations and charitable events. The majority of it goes to education and helping children.

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Bob Ellis (above) and his wife, Sandra, donate to many Southern Nevada non-profits annually.

When I asked him why education, Bob told a story he’s repeated many times: When he started his first and only semester at UNLV in 1961, he recalled orientation. “Dr. Young said look to your right and look to your left. After the first semester, one of the three of you will be gone. I didn’t want to screw up his statistics, so after one semester, I was gone.”

Bob went to work for his father and today is president and CEO of Snap Towing. True to the promise he made to himself, Bob — and Sandra — have contributed more than four million dollars to non-profit groups and education. Their contributions this year include $50,000 to Nevada State College and $25,000 to University of Tennessee, Martin.

“Thank you for the shoes. I love them.” – Hailey

But the project Bob is most excited about is buying a pair of shoes and two pairs of socks for school children at some of the most disadvantaged schools in Southern Nevada. He started the program 12 years ago at an elementary school in Caliente, Nevada. This year, he’ll do the same for the kids at all Lincoln County schools.

Here in the Valley, Bob picked out four schools, Robert Taylor and C.T. Sewell in Henderson, Lomie Heard at Nellis Air Force Base, and Reynaldo Martinez in North Las Vegas. He makes sure every child is measured for size and buys a pair of shoes suited for each student.

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Each child gets a pair of shoes and two pairs of socks.

Bob and Sandra believe in helping students because, as Bob has said many times, “They are our future.” In addition to buying the children shoes and socks, the Ellises give each student a gift for Christmas. Their kindness is not lost on the children.

You can tell by the grin on his face that Bob’s biggest rewards are given to him by the smallest hands, the thank you letters from the children. Natalie writes, “I really loved the shoes. They are really pretty…you did awesome donating shoes. I can tell you thank you 100 times…You rock!” From Hailey, “Thank you for the shoes. I love them. I match my friends, and now there is a club for girls that have matching shoes. We are all happy.”

Of all the recognition given to Bob and Sandra, they are most proud of being selected as the 2015 Distinguished Nevadans by the Nevada System of Higher Education. The recognition is given to people who have made a significant contribution to the cultural, scientific, and social advancement of Nevada.

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Co-founder Tony Berti sizing up kids for new shoes.

Goodie Two Shoes

The Goodie Two Shoes Foundation is a non-profit organization that strives to provide new shoes and socks for 10,000 children in Southern Nevada each year. During the past school year,  the organization served 10,792 students. The children are selected from 25 target schools, and all are from low to moderate-income families or are considered in an immediate crisis. The children are selected from 25 target schools and all are from low to moderate-income families or considered in an immediate crisis.

The foundation relies on individual and corporate donations as well as grants and help from community partner businesses in Southern Nevada. The organization also has an annual fundraiser. This year, the 8th Annual Evening of Heart N’ Sole will be held at the M Resort Spa Casino on May 14, 2016. Find out more about The Goodie Two Shoes Foundation at goodietwoshoes.org.