When Central High School senior Jonathan Prashad participated in the “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” walk at Jones Beach in October, a box labeled “Soles4Souls” caught his eye, he said. So he went home that night and researched the Nashville, Tenn.-based organization, which distributes new and gently-used shoes to developing countries.
“Seeing that was the inspiration for starting this,” Prashad said of his Eagle Scout project to collect shoes for the organization.
He decided to organize a shoe drive for his Eagle Scout project, he said, because Americans tend to take footwear for granted, but people in developing countries walk barefoot for miles to get necessities for their families. When they do so, Prashad said, they could be exposed to a slew of health problems, such as infections, tetanus and back injuries.
Prashad then emailed Lydia Dowell, the manager for community partnerships, who gave him advice on how to start a shoe collection drive in Valley Stream. “He just talked a lot about helping the community,” Dowell said of Prashad, whom she described as “a rock star, and a super-passionate kid.”
With her advice in mind, Prashad set up collection boxes at Grace United Methodist Church, Grace Methodist Nursery School, Valley Stream Central High School, King Kullen, Sip This and the Henry Waldinger Memorial Library. He will continue to collect shoes at those locations for about another week, after which he and other scouts in Troop 109 will sanitize them and bring them to a Soles4Souls facility in Manhattan.
From there, the shoes will be distributed to Soles4Souls’ micro-enterprise program, which provides individuals in developing countries with the ability to start small businesses by selling the shoes. “When you guys donate your gently-used shoes, you’re helping.” Dowell said.
For more information about Prashad’s project, call (516) 455 – 3302.