Nineteen-year-old Sara Zaghi is making a difference, five minutes and one pair of jeans at a time. Zaghi is a junior at University of California, Los Angeles who likes to keep busy around campus as both a campus correspondent for “HerCampus“and the chief of staff for the Financial Supports Commission. She’s also heavily involved with UCLA Hillel, a community that has made it its mission to be the home away from home for all Jewish students. She majors in Communication Studies and worked at a PR firm for two years; currently, she is interning at CBS.
Since she was a child, Zaghi has always been very involved with her community. In high school, she started a club based on Do Something, in which a new service project was led every week. Presently, the UCLA student has created two Do Something campaigns with very different, but equally important goals. Teens for Jeans, a campaign she started in 2011, provides homeless teenagers across the country with the thing they request the most—a pair of jeans. The campaign is intended to not only provide unfortunate teens with clothing, but also to battle existing stereotypes about homelessness.
Her second campaign, Shower Songs, which she created in 2014, is aimed at reducing unnecessary water usage one, five-minute playlist at a time. The average American uses more than seventeen gallons of water per eight-minute shower and with California going through a drought, this cause is very important to Zaghi. As a result of her service work, as well as her campus involvement and high academic standards, Zaghi has received ABC’s Summer of Service Award in and has been recognized as one of HerCampus’s 2016 “Top 22 Under 22 Most Inspiring Women.” I was able to speak with her about what inspired her to give back so fervently to the community, as well as what she wanted to in terms of service work following her graduation.
Bria Jones: For starters, I would like to get a sense of who you are outside of the projects. What school do you attend? What year are you in and what is your major?
Sara Zaghi: I go to UCLA, class of 2019. I am entering my junior year and I am a Communication Studies Major.
BJ: How involved are you on campus? Do you do any volunteer work there? Any extracurriculars?
SZ: I am the UCLA campus correspondent for “HerCampus” and super involved in student government and Hillel. I am also the chief of staff for the Financial Supports Commission, which is one of the fourteen student government offices at UCLA.
BJ: What are your interests, what do you like to do in your free time?
SZ: I love the entertainment industry and watch way too many shows. I enjoy doing Zumba at the gym, but I’m also a big foodie and love going to food festivals. I love concerts too, and I’m always wasting money on tickets. I don’t usually have much free time, but I like to stay super busy; so, I tend to put a lot of my time into my extracurricular activities at school and jobs/internships.
BJ: I understand that you’ve been collecting jeans for homeless teenagers since your freshman year of high school, who or what first inspired you to do this?
SZ: During my freshman year of high school, I was in student council and our teacher asked us all to come up with ideas for new campaigns. I had always wanted to do a big jean drive, and I thought that would be the perfect opportunity to present it to my class. We were going to collect gently used jeans and donate them to homeless teens in Los Angeles. Jeans are the most requested item in homeless shelters and almost everyone wears them and grows out of them pretty quickly, so it seemed like a good fit.
BJ: In your senior year of high school, you collected over five thousand pairs of jeans. How were you able to collect so many pairs? What kind of promotions did you do?
SZ: I actually got about five to six thousand jeans my senior year and around twenty-five thousand total in the past six years. I still get jeans dropped off at my house randomly all the time. I partnered with local elementary and middle schools, visited those schools and taught leadership skills to their student council class. I helped them organize a drive at their school and worked with my volunteers to help collect all of them. I also worked with local businesses, community centers and religious centers to help collect even more jeans. I worked with Buffalo Exchange, a recycled clothing store, who donated all their unwanted jeans to the drive. Abercrombie, and Articles of Society also donated brand new jeans to my drive.
BJ: So, how did it feel receiving ABC’s Summer of Service Award?
SZ: It was really exciting! I am a big Disney and ABC fan, so that was cool. It was an honor to receive that award, and we got a small grant with it that helped fund the trucks and supplies needed for our drive.
BJ: You also have the campaign with DoSomething called Shower Songs. What made you think of something like creating super short playlists purely for taking showers as a campaign?
SZ: I always took long showers growing up, which is terrible, especially since I am always that friend yelling at others to recycle and is really into environmental issues. I was part of the Youth Advisory Council for Do Something, and they paired us up with staff members there to create our own campaigns for the site. I always have a shower speaker in my shower, and I connect it to my phone via Bluetooth. Once I told Do Something about this, they thought it would make a great campaign. It’s super easy to create a playlist, and it really does help you know when time is passing by in the shower. I really believe in this as a great way to relax and enjoy your shower, but also be aware of the passing time and use it as a way to control your shower time.
BJ: Picking just two or three songs for a playlist can be pretty hard though. What is on your Shower Songs playlist?
SZ: The name of the campaign came from the Becky G song and when it came out, she tweeted about it. I had no idea she even knew it existed so I was so surprised, but I always switch up my playlist.
BJ: Finally, after hearing all about the things you’ve done so far, I’m curious, do you have future plans for any more campaigns?
SZ: I am definitely working on some new campaign ideas, but not really ready to share them yet. I’m working on some little things through my involvements at school too.