By Asher ’23
When it comes to student initiative, Harvard-Westlake is far from lacking. Passionate and resourceful students are constantly interacting with organizations and student interest groups to foster their passions. These can range from clubs centered around their favorite board games to full-on businesses. One of the amazing groups that I have gotten a chance to be a part of is a non-profit organization called Soles4Good.
Soles4Good was started a few years ago by a couple of Harvard-Westlake students who realized how many used shoes go to waste in the US every year. Wanting to use this resource to help people in less privileged parts of the world, the students got to work. They partnered with a group in Senegal that could put these shoes to good use and began collecting pairs of used shoes to send over. The plan was to use the supply of shoes to teach people with few resources how to establish their own business selling footwear. Not only does Soles4Good’s system help reduce waste in our communities, but it gives its beneficiaries an opportunity at becoming economically self-sufficient. After Soles4Good’s first successful shipment to Senegal, Soles4Good began to expand, recruiting more Harvard-Westlake students to help with the cause. When I first joined, I helped collect shoes by organizing and running a shoe drive at my elementary school. With many other HW students collecting shoes across Los Angeles, Soles4Good was able to accumulate thousands of shoes to help even more people. Over the years, the group expanded its operations to El Salvador and has plans to keep spreading its impact around the globe.
I eventually became part of the leadership team and have gotten to work with a lot of other passionate students, each contributing to a different facet of the organization. My main job was to communicate and help coordinate with the women’s church in El Salvador that Soles4Good was partnered with. Thanks to my position, I have gotten to experience firsthand the impact that our group has had on people’s lives. In fact, our influence was even more profound than we expected. I got to watch as struggling mothers and hardworking women joined our program and used the skills and resources gained from our project to start their own new business ranging from selling scarves to managing their own candy shop. As for the impact that Soles4Good has had in my life, I’ve grown in ways I never would have imagined.