In the first month, we collected 4000 pairs of socks… Currently, KKGS has partners at 65 schools and has collected 110,352 pairs of socks.
Role: Founder of Knock Knock, Give a Sock
Location: New York, New York
How did you get started with Knock Knock, Give a Sock (KKGS)?
A few years ago I was passing out sandwiches to homeless people in NYC and one man told me that he appreciated the food but what he really needed was socks. That night, I went door-to-door in my NYU dorm and collected 40 socks from my neighbors.
In the first month, we collected 4000 pairs of socks. Shortly thereafter I went to India to volunteer for a few months. Upon my return to the states, I started getting emails from students at college campuses across the country asking how they could get involved. The enthusiasm from students and communities propelled KKGS to grow. Currently, KKGS has partners at 65 schools and has collected 110,352 pairs of socks.
How has KKGS grown?
Collecting socks is an important part of what we do, but what’s at the core of our work is eliminating the stigma surrounding homelessness. I’ve found that although college students are very sensitive and empathetic to different types of identities, they don’t treat homelessness with the same compassion. They aren’t taking the time to talk to people experiencing homelessness to truly understand their stories.
Our slogan at KKGS is “meet your neighbors while meeting the needs of others.” I created a “Meet Your Neighbors” dinner where college students and homeless people could sit side by side and share a meal, eliminating the societal barriers that separate them. We are working on expanding this model to our corporate partners as well, to put homeless people in the same room as consultants so they speak to and learn from one another.
What is the future of KKGS?
I envision a KKGS that has a physical “Meet Your Neighbors” center, where every night different shelters come together to have dinner with different companies. I also want to develop children’s programs, like swimming classes or dance teams, where kids who live in shelters can engage with kids in private school. The goal is to allow these kids experiencing homelessness to build social capital from a young age.
What advice do you have for people who want to make a difference in the social impact sphere?
Don’t do it alone. Ask for help and tell your friends about the work you’re doing. Invite them to come with you, share it on social media. There is this idea that you have to do acts of charity quietly. But, seeing others do good makes people want to do the same. Do good and be loud about it.
Anything else you want to share with us?
Although there have been a lot of successes with starting KKGS, there have been a lot of “no’s.” I write about the challenges I’ve experienced in my blog. I think it’s important to talk about the struggles in the nonprofit world along with the triumphs.
Learn more and get involved with Knock Knock Give a Sock.