Young people get a bad reputation for smoking behind the bike shed while bunking lessons, but one 17-year-old is flying the flag for teen power.
Lindsay Sobel is not only helping homeless people, but also giving them a sense of pride.
The Californian native collects unwanted shoes to donate to rough sleepers, and has so far handed out a whopping 30,000 pairs to those in need.
Her aspirations to help began at the tender age of 12, when visiting the Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles for a basketball game.
While Downtown strives to be an up-and-coming area, with trendy bars and apartments popping up across the district, it is also ravished by poverty. In particular, the infamous Skid Row neighbourhood, which has one of the largest populations of homeless people in the US.
Reflecting on her experiences, Lindsay said: “I noticed a lot of them were in really awful living conditions, no way any person should have to live.
“On top of that, I noticed a lot of them did not even have shoes on. I was like, ‘Wow, people don’t have shoes?’ It kind of put things into perspective for me.”
When she returned home after the game, Lindsay was struck by how many shoes she had in her closet that she no longer wore and felt inspired to give to people who could benefit from them.
But that wasn’t enough, she wanted to continue her mission to give back to the community, and that’s when Shoes for Souls was born.
Lindsay began reaching out to friends and classmates to donate shoes, while also using opportunities at summer day camp and a Bat Mitzvah project to keep momentum going.
Before long, the collection began to grow, and Lindsay started donating to homeless shelters which made her “full of joy because of the fact that I’m able to help people out”.
Her efforts did not go unnoticed either, with the young humanitarian crowned 2017 Chatsworth Youth of the Year, an awards ceremony hosted in her local neighbourhood.
Fast-forward to today, and Lindsay has collected tens of thousands of shoes to help disadvantaged people. Though she has one rule, she needs good soles for good souls.
She explained: “My motto is, if you would wear it, I’ll accept it. I want to try to give the best experience to all the people. I don’t want to give them a pair of shoes that are beaten down or worn down. I don’t want them to think that’s their self-worth.”
Chatting to A Mighty Girl blog, she added: “You know a fresh, new pair of shoes can really brighten someone’s day, brighten their attitude and their outlook on life.”
To support Lindsay and donate, click here: Shoes for Souls.