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When Boston photographer Cara Soulia and her friend Kristen Collins first came up with the idea to photograph their neighbors from the front steps of their homes in Needham in the middle of March, they had no clue the movement it would turn into.

“We thought, ‘people would love some fresh air and maybe they’d donate to a local non-profit to join the fun,’ Let’s try it!” says Cara. And the Front Steps Project™ was born.

The goal: To highlight the faces of the community during a time when they might not see them in passing at the grocery store, coffee shop, on the train or at the gym.

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And within 24 hours, over 100 Needham residents asked to participate. Within 48 hours, the number tripled, and kept climbing. Friends Topher Cox and Caitrin Dunphy joined in, and the four photographers spent the following nine days photographing over 500 members of the Needham community. In exchange for a professional photo, the squad asked their neighbors to donate to the Needham Community Council.

“The purpose of this project is to bring us together virtually when we might feel isolated, all while helping those who need it most right now,” Cara tells.

Fast forward to now, Front Steps Projects has raised over $25K for the Needham Community Council and the concept of #thefrontstepsproject has been voluntarily replicated by hundreds of photographers who have raised over $500K for local organizations such as food pantries and hospitals.

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How does a passion project get so big? A mission that really matters. “We’re humbled by the response!” the team says, “It is so fulfilling to witness so many creative individuals choosing to unite their communities (from afar!) in this unprecedented time. We may be temporarily separated, but we are always united.”

We at Sperry are on board too. That’s why we’re donating $1K to the Needham Community Council. Nothing can stop us from helping and believing in project making a difference in our community, especially now.

As of March 25, the project in Needham is on pause due to Massachusetts’ stay at home order, but Cara, Kristen and company hope to resume when it is safe to do so.

Interested in learning more? Check out The Front Steps Project right here.

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