Natalie Minuto, a junior at Smithtown High School West, recently spearheaded a collection of roughly 450 gently used shoes to benefit Soles4Souls, a nonprofit that recycles shoes for individuals in need.
Minuto said she
with the idea last year while visiting her brother at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts and seeing a poster promoting a similar shoe collection.
"I realized I have multiple pairs of shoes and a lot of them don't even fit me," said Minuto, 16, noting that walking barefoot in developing countries can lead to a variety of diseases. "We don't want people to have to go through that when we have so many shoes ourselves."
To promote the monthlong collection, Minuto and a handful of classmates hung posters in hallways throughout the school and set up three collection boxes supplied by Soles4Souls representatives. Donated shoes ranged from flip-flops to sneakers to dress shoes, she said.
At the end of the effort, Minuto and friends mailed the shoes to Soles4Souls headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., to be cleaned and distributed to people in the United States and in dozens of countries around the world.
Minuto is a member of the varsity track team, Student Council, and the English, Italian and Tri-M Music honor societies.