Denise Garcia has incorporated her passion for running and charitable work into her Senior Project. She’s focusing on Soles4Souls, a not-for-profit enterprise committed to fighting poverty by collecting and distributing shoes and clothing.
Denise’s project has three components. First, she will be hosting a shoe drive at Ross Upper and Lower School and in the community. She hopes to collect over 100 pairs of shoes in all sizes. Second, she is running every day and plans to eventually run her second half-marathon. The third key part is a photo journal—she is recording both her personal and charitable experiences with abstract photography that will capture the shoe drive and her training run locations.
“I got the idea to collect shoes during my Field Academy trip to Sri Lanka last year, where I saw a group of children running a 5K race in bare feet,” Denise explained. She said the day was so hot, and the pavement was likely burning their feet. “It was heartbreaking. Every child should have a pair of shoes to help protect against injury and infection.”
She chose to support Soles4Souls after careful research. The group helps people worldwide. More than 50 percent of the shoes and proceeds Denise collects will go to needy individuals in the United States. The remainder will be donated in 127 countries, with the gently used shoes provided to the “micro-enterprises” established by impoverished people, with Soles4Souls’s help, to generate regular income. “I like that the shoes will make a difference in both domestic and international communities,” Denise said.
In her photo journal, Denise will include pictures of her favorite running spots, documented through the change of the seasons. “Running is almost a spiritual experience for me,” she said. “My daily runs are a time of reflection, and the photos will hopefully tell a personal story.”
Starting November 30 and continuing through December, Denise’s Soles4Souls shoe donation boxes will be set up at both the Upper and Lower School campuses. Donors can also contact Denise at firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements for her to pick up the shoes. Ideal donations are new or gently used shoes in all styles and sizes.
Denise is clearly headed for a successful future, and she hopes to study communications and political science at a college on the East Coast next year.