Micaela Boxer Wachler presents on sun protection for homeless population, urges students to get involved


Photo credit: Siena Ferraro

Micaela Boxer Wachler (’24) presents a slideshow on the importance of sun protection for the homeless community to an audience of middle school students. She urged students to donate sunglasses, hats and other means of sun protection to her drive, which will take place from Jan. 23-27.

By Siena Ferraro, News Editor

It is no secret Los Angeles County’s homelessness issue is worsening. Los Angeles County supervisors declared a county-wide state of emergency Jan. 9 regarding the homeless crisis. For junior Micaela Boxer Wachler, serving the homeless is not only a deeply rooted passion, but her mission. She said she is determined to make a difference, but in a way some may find unusual.

Upper and middle school students gathered in the library Jan. 5 and 6 to listen to Boxer Wachler present on the importance of sun protection for the homeless community. Her presentation spanned 10 minutes, covering the various diseases stemming from a lack of sufficient sun protection and educating audiences on ways they can be of service to members of the homeless population.

“When we’re thinking about their specific needs, we think of food, shelter and clothing,” Boxer Wachler said. “There’s one thing that most people skip, which is sun protection.”

Since she was 6 years old, Boxer Wachler has been eager to serve the homeless community. Together with her father, she spends her weekends driving around her community, stopping to aid people in need by passing out small essentials such as socks. Boxer Wachler said that though this may seem like a small gesture, it carries the potential to brighten someone’s day.

[Sunglasses are] a very easy thing just to hand out whenever you see someone that is in need. It’s very easy to do. Anyone can do it.

— Micaela Boxer Wachler ('24)

“My dad is an ophthalmologist. So, throughout my entire life, I’ve always been hearing him say, ‘make sure you wear your sunglasses;  you don’t want to damage your eyes,”’ Boxer Wachler said. “Because I’m passionate about the homeless, I came to this realization that not many people know that sunglasses and hats and sunscreen are very important and are also a basic need for the homeless too, along with all the other, more thought-of basic needs like food, shelter and clothing.”

During her presentation, Boxer Wachler explained the potentially severe consequences a lack of proper sun protection could cause. She shared a 2015 study in which researchers found that homeless people have limited knowledge of optometry services and are more likely to be susceptible to eye diseases such as cataracts and glaucoma. The facts gathered by the study combined with images of severe cases of glaucoma and cataracts stimulated a multitude of audience reactions — from gasps to an influx of raised hands for questions.

Hollyn Alpert (’28) said Boxer Wachler’s presentation inspired her to become more involved in service work that will benefit the homeless population.

“I was really terrified because I, personally, wouldn’t want to go through [an eye disease],” Alpert said. “It’s appalling because so many other people have to deal with that.”

Sophomore Abby Borstein said she had given thought to sun protection for the homeless population in the past but had never considered it to be a major issue.

“I thought this was a very important topic to discuss,” Borstein said. “Restating what [Boxer Wachler] said in the assembly, we often forget about smaller necessities like eyewear and focus more on housing or food.”

From Jan. 23 through Jan. 27, Boxer Wachler will be hosting a drive to collect various items of sun protection to donate to members of the homeless community. She plans on giving the items collected from her drive to PATH, an organization that works to achieve medical equity within all communities. PATH will then distribute the items collected to members of the homeless population.

“[Sunglasses are] a very easy thing just to hand out whenever you see someone that is in need,” Boxer Wachler said. “It’s very easy to do. Anyone can do it.”