April 15, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Local Students Encourage Others to ‘Give a Sock’

It is often said that the best idea can be found right in front of one’s face; however, for Adina Lichtman, it was right under her feet. It all started in November of 2013 when Lichtman, a West Orange native and graduate of Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School, was handing out sandwiches to people experiencing homelessness in New York City. A man approached her and said that what they really needed was socks, especially with winter approaching. Lichtman immediately got to work. That night, she went door-to-door in her New York University dorm, asking each person to donate just one pair of socks. She collected over 40 pairs of socks in a single night from just one floor. “It started small, but I knew it was such a simple concept that it could easily be grown,” says Lichtman. “College students love to do good, but sometimes they need a literal knock on their door to do so. And everyone has an extra pair of socks they can donate.”

Just over a year later, there are over 40 universities and Jewish day schools across the country participating in Knock Knock, Give A Sock (KKGAS). According to Lichtman, socks are crucial because people experiencing homelessness often wear four or five pairs to stay warm during the winter. They also help prevent frostbite and protect the feet from fungal and bacterial infections.

Though KKGAS gives socks to 10 donation centers in New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, Lichtman says that she has become known as the “Sock Fairy” because she carries a bag of socks with her wherever she goes during the winter. She has also enlisted others to help. Naomi Kadish, an NYU freshman and graduate of Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School now serves as Operations Assistant for KKGAS New York headquarters, coordinating with representatives from chapters around the country, as well as organizing local events and drop offs. “I got involved because I was looking for a practical, meaningful way to help those experiencing homelessness,” says Kadish. “The fact that socks are the most needed, yet least donated article of clothing, showed me how important KKGAS is.”

Lichtman also sought out high school students whom she thought could help bring the campaign to Jewish day schools including RKYHS, Ma’ayanot, The Frisch School, and Torah Academy of Bergen County. Without dorm room doors to knock on, the high school representatives had to find new ways to spread the word. “I brought the campaign to Kushner with constant announcements and Facebook posts,” says Jacob Mendelson, a senior at RKYHS. Mendelson says that 100 pairs of socks were collected last winter, and more than 200 were collected this season. “I told all of my friends that even donating one pair would make a huge difference,” says Mendelson. “People recognized the importance of the cause and really cared about the campaign. Overall, it has been a huge success at Kushner.”

Tamar Mendelson, the student representative at Ma’ayanot, has had a similar experience. After Lichtman told Mendelson about KKGAS, she signed up immediately to become a representative for her school. “Many people have loved the idea of KKGAS and have even wanted to give the socks out themselves,” she says. “By the end of the drive, we had a huge cardboard box overflowing with donated socks.” Ma’ayanot donated a total of 407 pairs of socks this winter. KKGAS has also received support from companies including ToeSox, Bombas, and PlanetSox, adding thousands of pairs of socks to the total donated.

It should come as no surprise that Lichtman’s work is far from done. “Before I graduate, I hope to create a sustainable movement across all college campuses,” she says. “Each year around this time, I hope every college in the country will have a sock day, week, or month, and collect socks for the homeless.” She adds that she would like to see more corporations and businesses get involved as well. As for her plans after graduation, Lichtman’s aspirations are just as ambitious as you would expect. “I hope to change the world!”

To learn more about how to get involved with KKGAS, visit knocknockgiveasock.com

By Rachel Jager

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