Isaiah Freedman staff writer
For Service Learning’s latest project, big blue boxes with the logo Soles4Souls plastered on them have popped up around the school with the purpose of collecting shoes to be given to those who need them.
The effort is spearheaded by Service Learning seniors Jonah Pourat and Jared Minami, who came up with the idea as a result of their own guilt over how many sneakers they themselves owned.
“Jared and I started this out of the goodness of our hearts,” Pourat said. “I almost feel guilty seeing all the shoes in my closet.”
As co-head organizer, Pourat knew he had a passion for sneakers, but he needed a distributor to ensure they would arrive in the hands of people who truly needed them. In came Soles4Souls, which Pourat discovered when researching some viable options for distribution. He proceeded to contact one of its representatives.
“We obviously live in an affluent community, and I know there are many people with tons of shoes collecting dust in the closet. I wanted to solve this problem by solving another problem,” Pourat said.
Soles4Souls is a nonprofit organization devoted to “sustainable jobs and providing relief through the distribution of clothes around the world,” according to its website. It was conceived by founder Wayne Elsey one day as he was following news coverage of a massive Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. While watching, Elsey spotted a single shoe wash ashore, and two years later formed Soles4Souls, according to a Forbes article.
Soles4Souls is a very wide-reaching organization. They have delivered over 30 million pairs of shoes and clothing to 127 countries. Pourat said that shoes from Beverly will go directly to four countries: Moldova, Honduras, Sierra Leone and Haiti.
“Our partnership with Soles4Souls is perfect. I’m here to make the change in our community and they are here to make a change in the world,” Pourat said.
“Bringing in shoes is just a great way for everyone in the community to help other communities,” Minami said.
The project has received rousing reviews from students, who empathize with those in need
“Helping people makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside,” senior Brandon Lee said. “What our school is doing is a really good deed.”
Senior Aviel Ghermezi, who has Probability and Statistics with Mr Glass, loves the idea of Soles4Souls and what they are accomplishing.
“Service Learning is doing such a good deed. Giving kids in need of shoes something to put on their feet is fantastic,” Ghermezi said.
The blue boxes should be in three classrooms around the school: The attendant’s office, Mr. Glass and Mrs. Marrs’ room. Students and staff are encouraged to drop in a pair of used shoes at their leisure. The small gesture makes an enormous difference. Shoes will be collected until May 18.
“When I wake up, I’m so lucky and grateful that I can decide which shoes to wear, instead of just wanting to be able to wear any pair,” Pourat said.