Layken Sanders – Tennessee Interview by Zoe DAngelo Nomination by Jeni Sanders Photography by Jeni Sanders & Amber McKellar Issue 23 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
The Nomination: Layken Sanders is such an inspiring teen, because she has devoted the last 4 years to collecting shoes for Soles4Souls. She has currently collected 42,000 pairs of shoes and is on track to meet her goal of 50,000 pairs by the end of 2019. Layken has been on a mission trip to Haiti to deliver, size, and fit brand-new pairs of shoes on 450 children. She works hard every day for this charity, while keeping straight As in her honors classes, and being on multiple competition cheer teams, in which she has been named most reliable and best stunter, as well as numerous awards at school.
Photography by Jeni Sanders
Tell us about your involvement with Soles4Souls. How did it get started and what is it like?
When I was 10 years old, I decided to stop receiving birthday gifts and in the place of presents I asked for gently used shoes to be donated to Soles4Souls. This nonprofit charity organization based in middle TN seemed like the perfect charity for me to be involved with, because of their outreach to so many children and families all over the world. Once I dropped off the shoes I had collected for my birthday, I was given a tour of the warehouse, and given so much information about how they impact so many lives. At that point, my brother and I set a goal to collect 50,000 pairs of shoes and become Ambassadors for Soles4Souls. We are currently at over 42,000 pairs collected.
Other than shoes, would you be interested in donating different articles of clothing?
Yes, I have been interested in donating other items, as well. I have helped with a local coat drive and was able to collect 161 coats to be donated. That was a great cause that I will continue to support.
Photography by Jeni Sanders
How do you keep yourself organized with helping with Soles4Souls while keeping straight A’s in school? I keep myself organized with my commitment to Soles4Souls, my straight As in honors classes, and my multiple All Star and School Competitive Cheer Teams by having a goal oriented attitude. I stay focused on my goals, create new ones as I go, and stay positive when times are tough. I always want to strive for the best and I'm not afraid of putting in a lot of hard work and effort to achieve my goals.
Photography by Amber McKellar
Tell us about the trip you are taking to Haiti.
I went on a mission trip to Haiti a year and a half ago. It was life changing! To be a part of an organization who helps improve the quality of life for other living beings is priceless. I got to see firsthand how children couldn't attend school if they didn't have a pair of shoes. That affected me deeply, because I couldn't even imagine not being given the opportunity to get at least a basic education. I learned so much during this experience that I will value for a lifetime. Such as, not taking anything for granted and how to be an advocate for change. I loved getting to go to several orphanages, schools, and villages to deliver 450 pairs of brand-new shoes to excited kids. It was also amazing to visit the Haitian American Caucus to meet two ladies who were apart of the microenterprise program. I can't wait to go back soon!
Layken will be featured in Issue 23 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!