Eagle Project Benefits Scout and Community

Eagle Scout candidate Alexander “Sander” Choi with some of the 600 pairs of shoes he collected for Soles4Souls.

Alexander Choi, who goes by “Sander,” is a16-year-old student attending Clark Magnet High School and a Boy Scout with Troop 502, based out of La Cañada Flintridge. He has been working on his Eagle Scout project that he hopes will protect the planet and help lift people out of poverty. More specifically, he has been engaged in a collection drive that will prevent gently used shoes from going to waste and put them to good use.

According to the Boy Scouts, an Eagle project should benefit the community, either the local community or the world community. Choi, who has been a Scout since fifth grade, looked for a project that could help both the people and the environment. Then he became aware of Soles4Souls, a non-profit organization that collects shoes to divert them from landfills and give them to micro-entrepreneurs around the world to help them create a business.

“I have always been interested in entrepreneurship, so the idea of helping entrepreneurs was really exciting,” he said.

It is estimated that more than 700 million people in the word live on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank. The Soles4Soles website states that its micro-enterprise program that provides shoes and clothes to nascent entrepreneurs has lifted people out of poverty while also providing affordable shoes to their communities.

As of Dec. 18, Choi has collected over 600 pairs of shoes and is still collecting more. He has noticed that a large percentage of the shoes are in great condition, some looking like they were hardly worn. He has used social media as an outreach tool to promote his project in several different neighborhoods. He has worked with other Scouts, individuals and representatives from Soles4Souls.

The Eagle Project is designed to be challenging; once the project is found the Scout must make presentations to Boy Scout leaders both in their troop and in the council that oversees their troop.

“I have learned a lot from the project, especially about the importance of discipline and [to] keep on going,” Choi said. He also said that he was impressed with the generosity and care of his neighbors. “I am grateful to all the donors. I was excited to learn about how generous people can be.”