Sonora seniors give some soles to community children
By Gigi Gradillas
La Habra Journal
Children with painted faces smiled and laughed as they grabbed their pairs of shoes and ran to meet their parents in the parking
lot of the Salvation Army in Santa Fe Springs.
The children and their parents maneuvered around tables collecting their brand new shoes thanks to some local heroes.
Four seniors from Sonora High School collected shoes for less fortunate children through Soles4Souls, an organization which collects donated shoes for a cause.
Seniors Jake Rosander, Christian Rhodes, Ben Rico, and Christian Miller, along with thehelp of their family and friends, were able to hold their own shoe distribution for the children.
Rosander started collecting shoes when he was in eighth grade.
“Back in 2010, the earthquake hit Haiti,” Rosander recalled. “I was watching TV, watching all of the people walking around without shoes on and it just made me wonder how they could possibly walk around the crumpled streets with rubble, glass, and trash. I looked up any organizations that would help that cause and I found Soles4Souls.”
In 2013, Rosander, who is heading to Brown University, and his grandmother traveled to Haiti through Soles4Souls. “Making those relations with those kids made me want to continue,” Rosander said.
Since his first shoe drive, he has continued to collect them. During his freshman year, three of his best friends, Rhodes, Rico, and Miller, joined him in his shoe drive success. Together, along with Rosander’s previous collections, they have raised over 10,000 pairs of shoes.
Their distribution helped 100 needy children. In addition to the shoes, the kids also received books, beanies, mittens, and sack lunches provided by Lunch4LA, a nonprofit organization that was started by Ben Rico’s older brother, Christian. The organization, started by this Sonora alumnus, collects food to distribute to the homeless in Los Angeles’ Skid Row.
In addition, the teens were able to work with Lomeli’s Italian Restaurant who donated a pasta lunch for all the families.
The extra donations collected came from the senior boys’ families and friends.
“Family and friends donated and it just turned into this big thing,” Dianne Rosander, Jake’s mother, says of the overwhelming amount of support the four boys have received.
Heydi, 9, of La Puente was one of the children receiving a new pair of shoes.
“I got shoes but they’re being decorated right now with ladybugs,” she said.
This is just a step in the charity efforts. Rosander, with the help of his friends, is continuing to collect shoes. He explained that if they reach the 25,000 mark of shoe collections, Soles4Souls will send him back to Haiti.
Soles4Souls is a global not-for-profit institution dedicated to fighting the devastating impact and perpetuation of poverty by collecting new and used shoes and clothes from individuals, schools, faith-based institutions, civic organizations and corporate partners, then distributing those shoes and clothes both via direct donations to people in need.
The families expressed their appreciation for the generosity these high school seniors were showing.
However, according to the boys, they were the ones who were appreciative.
“I’d been looking to help out a little more around the community,” Rico said. “Jake and I are blessed to be in the situations we are in with our families and we wanted to give back.”