MARTIAL ARTS TEACHER RALLIES COMMUNITY TO COLLECT SHOES AND RAIN BOOTS FOR KIDS IN NEED
Each year, TEGNA recognizes 14 outstanding leaders of Make A Difference Day projects, awarding $140,000 in grants that are donated to the charities related to the winning projects.
Farshad, who is the grandmaster at Azad’s Martial Arts Center in Chico, responded with a month-long donation drive – which he called “Gimme Some Sole” – to collect new and gently used shoes and rain boots for children from low-income families, whose flip flops, beat-up sandals and hand-me-down shoes would offer no protection or warmth from cold and rainy winter weather.
In recognition of his efforts on Make A Difference Day, Farshad was awarded a $10,000 grant that he donated to the Chico Community Shelter Partnership, , which manages the Torres Community Shelter – a little extra money to do a lot more good for homeless families in the community. We asked Farshad to tell us more about last year’s project and what he has planned for Make A Difference Day this year.
What was the inspiration behind the “Gimme Some Sole” projects?
Tell us a little more about what you did on Make A Difference Day 2016.
The project took place at my business, Azad’s Martial Arts Center. It was a community service event for all students, and an opportunity to get hundreds of people in our community volunteering to make a difference. Azad’s students and their friends and family members looked in their own closets for lightly used shoes to donate, and many purchased new shoes with their saved piggy bank money. As we registered the event on the Make A Difference Day website, Gimme Some Sole quickly became a community-wide project, with people stepping forward to help and dropping off rain boots at the center.
I personally approached the general manager of the local Payless Shoe Source, asking him to set aside or order shoes for our project in a very rainy season. Once he heard what the project aimed to do, he provided us with a deep discount to help us out in purchasing more rain boots for kids. That was highly unexpected and much appreciated!
What was the most rewarding part of the experience? A favorite memory?
The most rewarding part of this project was the smiles on children’s face when we delivered the shoes to them! Absolutely heart-warming and fun. Many of them wanted to wear the shoes right there and then. Also, the fact that with the help of your organization and our team’s effort we got the community rallied to make a positive impact in a child’s life. Children are the future and if we guide them appropriately, they will become great contributing members of their community in the future.
Why do you think it’s important for others to get involved and make a difference in their community?
I have a formula! When we inspire an individual to give of their heart and soul and resources, we begin to improve the world. To positively impact our country, each city must take charge of its problems with visionary action-oriented solutions. To improve each city, we must strive to beautify our neighborhoods. To impact each neighborhood, we must first take care of the look and feel of our own residence. To beautify our place of residence, we must take pride and exercise daily attention to each part of the place. To take care of the residence, each one of residents must practice mindfulness in making ourselves better. What better way to take steps toward mindful action than to take charge of our own life and meanwhile actively help others! I believe Make A Difference Day and any occasion to volunteer is a fantastic opportunity for everyone to step forward and take positive measurable actions to make a difference in themselves and in their community.
As a 2016 Make A Difference Day Award Winner, you were awarded a $10,000 grant to donate to a charity of your choice. What will that money go toward?
The shelter is frequently visited by homeless mothers with children of all ages. Each year, the shelter helps many homeless men and women find jobs and get their independence back. According to the center, it takes about $1,000 to get each family back on regular track. I am excited to know that the Make A Difference Day award will help at least 10 families this year to become independent.
What do you want people to learn from your story?
Find what is dear to your heart that can benefit everyone in the community non-discriminately and with full inclusiveness. Then take positive action! Start with a simple warm smile at someone, to whatever you can contribute.
To influence this world in a positive way we MUST start looking to our abilities as opposed to our limited thoughts. From that point on, your vision will take you forward. We have a saying at Azad’s Martial Arts Center: “If sky is the limit, then reach for the stars!”