• Radhika Iyengar

Shoe Drive for the Planet

By Jasmine Ali

I was cleaning out my closet and I had decided to drop off my old clothes at GreenDrop in Springfield, where the clothes are then donated to thrift shops and organizations such as the Red Cross. I realized my family had some old shoes, and I did a google search to find organizations where I could donate them. I came across Soles 4 Souls, and their mission of turning shoes into opportunity was inspiring. I decided to start a shoe drive in our community to help keep shoes from going to our landfills and instead to a good cause.

I set my goal to be 500 pairs of shoes, which seemed ambitious at the time, however, the community was so supportive and I ended up collecting about 700 pairs! According to the Soles4Souls website, 700 pairs of shoes saves 21,000 pounds of carbon from going into the atmosphere, and in the countries where the shoes are shipped to, they can provide food, shelter, and education for a family for 12 months. I am deeply thankful for those who supported my initiative by donating their shoes and giving me shipping boxes to send them to the Soles4Souls headquarters. Together, we made a powerful impact.

Volunteering is an essential part of my life. Conducting a shoe drive was just one part of what I do. I volunteer regularly with the South Mountain Conservancy where I help pick up litter and make new trails. I organized an environmental education summer camp for elementary school aged children in our community last summer. I’m the coordinator for Extinction Rebellion Youth NJ, an environmental movement that uses nonviolent civil disobedience to compel government action on the climate crisis. I also work with the Green Cause, a youth-led environmental education organization. I am also a part of other environmental groups such as Fridays for Future, NJ Student Sustainability Coalition, MHS Ocean Conservation Club, and Sunrise Millburn. My greatest passion is protecting our environment. I’m vegan for the environment, and I’ve just started an Instagram account called @veganmillburn where I highlight the vegan options in our town to help normalize and promote vegan food. I also like to paint and draw. I’m a huge plant lover, and I’m starting a butterfly garden in my yard this year to help save the butterflies and honeybees.

In college, I hope to major in Environmental Studies. I’m very interested in pursuing something that has to do with environmental policy or environmental education. I want to do everything I can to combat climate change and help conserve our oceans. Thank you to everyone who donated shoes for helping me get one step closer to achieving my goals.


Jasmine Ali is the coordinator of Extinction Rebellion Youth NJ and a member of many other environmental groups. She is a proud volunteer for the South Mountain Conservancy where she works to protect and preserve the local reservation. She also teaches children about the science and impacts of climate change through presentations and lab activities. She hopes to study Environmental Analysis in college, with an emphasis on Environmental Policy or Environmental Education.

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