Thomas Harrison’s NJHS holds sneaker recycling drive, will use profit to plant trees


Holly Bill

Eighth grader Lucas Swartz assists community members in placing their sneakers into the recycling box.

Five pillars constitute the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS), and one of these is service. Thomas Harrison Middle School’s (THMS) chapter of the NJHS is currently hosting a sneaker recycling drive that exemplifies this cornerstone value. Eighth grader Evelyn Lewis is the chapter’s secretary, and she has been volunteering with this drive since mid-March. 

“We’re collecting sneakers to send to GotSneakers. They’ll send us money back for each pair collected],” Lewis said. “They’ll either give [the sneakers] to people who need [them], or they’ll recycle them into making things for playgrounds or really anything. With the money we’re getting back, we’re using [it] to plant trees.”

By both recycling the shoes and donating the funds to an organization that plants trees, THMS is participating in a very environmentally conscious project. 

“It’s helping the Earth because [the sneakers] don’t go to a landfill, so that’s a big thing,” Lewis said. “Then, we can just give them to people who need [them] which is better than them going in the trash. We can support another organization with the money we get from giving the sneakers.”

Starting the first week of March, the chapter has been collecting sneakers during Tuesday meal distributions outside of THMS. According to chapter president eighth grader Lucas Swartz, the drive has been successful thus far. 

“For the first week or so, we didn’t get the word out quite enough, so not a lot of people showed up,” Swartz said. “Then, we started picking up, and we got the word out. We have a lot of shoes now.”

Advertising the drive has been one of Swartz’s favorite parts of participating in it.

“I really enjoy collecting the sneakers and seeing how our whole chapter has come together to spread the word about it all,” Swartz said. 

The sneaker recycling drive isn’t the only community service project the chapter is working on. Both Lewis and Swartz have been spearheading different NJHS activities throughout the year.

“I’ve been working on things for blood drives. I’ve been doing publicity for that. I know we’re trying to organize some type of trash cleanup downtown, but we’re trying to figure out how many people can gather with COVID and things,” Lewis said. “We’ve done a lot of things [like] sending out [information] during advisory [about] mental health. [We’re] mostly doing things to get students involved.”

One of their main goals is community outreach to help students get involved during the pandemic. In addition to this involvement, Swartz has helped prepare resources for students.

“We’re making signs to thank first responders. We’re also doing COVID-safety awareness. I’m making Google Slides that teachers are going to share next Wednesday,” Swartz said. “We have a couple other small projects like that that are coming along. We’re [also] doing a food drive.”

It’s activities like these that inspired Swartz to join the NJHS in the first place.

“I joined NJHS for the service pillar,” Swartz said. “I always wanted to give back to the community, and I thought this was a perfect way to do it.”

Swartz encourages Harrisonburg community members to come recycle their sneakers at Thomas Harrison before the drive ends at the end of the month. Next Tuesday, March 30, will be the last sneaker collection date before the shoes are sent to GotSneakers.

“Come give your sneakers. I’m sure every single person has at least one pair of sneakers that they can give,” Swartz said. “It’s super easy. Just come on a Tuesday, and drop your shoes off. We’ll take it from there.”


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