Fox Chapel shoe drive is a learning experience
Fox Chapel Area senior Joseph Desmone is grateful for his access to education.
He's working to provide that same opportunity to children around the world through the high school's new Interact club, sponsored by the Fox Chapel branch of Rotary International.
“We are taking in shoe donations to send to Nicaragua,” he said.
Teacher Jen Klein, club coordinator, explained that students in the Central American country can attend school for free, but only if they have shoes.
“For many children, the lack of shoes is a barrier to learning and it allows the poverty cycle to continue,” Klein said.
The Shoes for Nicaragua fundraiser runs through Feb. 5. Collection boxes are located at the high school, 611 Field Club Road, and the public is encouraged to donate.
“It seemed like an easy way to help others and to give a new home to some used shoes that may otherwise be discarded,” Klein said.
Shoes will be delivered by members of Rotary International in March.
Klein said about 20 members are in the fledgling club and they represent all grade levels. The service is an opportunity to expand students' reach outside their own backyards, she said.
“Fox Chapel Area students are very active in community service projects and clubs, so this is just another option,” she said.
Hannah Schaffer, a senior and club president, said helping people who can't help themselves is a motivator.
“We get to help children in Nicaragua receive the education they deserve,” she said.
Targeting international goodwill and understanding through local and international projects, club members must complete two service projects each year that are meant to help develop leadership and integrity, and demonstrate helpfulness and respect.
“Our club motto is service above self,” Desmone said. “Interact club is my outlet for helping others, whether that be in the community or abroad.”
Junior Emma Paulini joined the club as a way to learn about global cultures and to foster collaboration and appreciation of others.
“I embrace the opportunity to reach out to others who I may not be connected to otherwise,” she said. “It is impactful to know you've helped enrich someone else's life.
“These experiences are lifelong and have lasting impact both for club members and those we help, reminding us of the big picture in life.”
Earlier this year, the club hosted a homecoming carnival booth and bake sale to raise money for the United Nations Refugee Agency.
In the fifth year of the Syrian crisis, millions of refugees face deteriorating conditions in host countries that are unwilling or unable to support them, Klein said.
“Our club raised $200 to supply refugee families with stoves to cook for themselves,” Klein said.
The next project likely will support a local charity, said sophomore Kristen Rabbitt, club vice president.
“We are extremely excited to be working on our second project of the year,” Rabbitt said. “Most of our members are very passionate about working in the local community next.”
Sophomore Jacob Klein said the chance to make a positive impact drove him to join the club.
“Knowing there are people in great need motivated me to make a difference,” he said.
Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at email@example.com.