Students start campaign to collect socks for the homeless

The Office of Residential Life and Learning (Reslife), the Leonard Carmichael Society (LCS) and Tufts Hillel have partnered to bring the “Knock Knock Give a Sock” donation campaign to Tufts this semester, with donation boxes available on campus until Dec. 1.

The Knock Knock Give a Sock organization aims to address the need for socks among the homeless and to “add a social component to charity,” according to Adina Lichtman, who started the initiative last November.

Lichtman, a junior at New York University (NYU) studying social work, said she began the organization after meeting Diego, a homeless man living in New York City.

Lichtman said she was delivering sandwiches to the homeless when Diego stopped to tell her that what the homeless really needed right before winter was socks. Lichtman then went back to her dorm, only to realize her socks would not fit the homeless man, she said. She proceeded to knock on the doors of her floormates, collecting 40 pairs of socks. The next day she gathered 25 more pairs. From there, Knock Knock Give a Sock was born, according to Lichtman. 

The campaign has grown from a small organization at NYU to a nationwide initiative that has representatives on 18 college campuses nationwide and about 20 high schools and academies in New York and New Jersey, according to its website.

“I feel like I’m working a full-time job,” Lichtman said. “I didn’t expect it to be this big.”

After Knock Knock Give a Sock collected 12,000 pairs of socks in its first year, Lichtman reached out to LCS Co-President Gemma Stern this summer in order to bring the initiative to Tufts. Stern said she thought this was a “great and simple idea to donate socks and help the community.”

Stern then sought out other groups to co-sponsor this campaign with LCS. She reached out to Becca Leibowitz, who chairs Hillel’s service-oriented Tzedakah Committee, as well as Liz Hartford, Reslife’s programming coordinator.

Hartford said that since Tufts does not permit door-to-door solicitation on campus, they would instead set up donation boxes in dorm laundry rooms and at Reslife events such as weekly hall snacks in dorms.

The role of LCS in the initiative, Stern explained, is to be the link between Hillel and Reslife and to oversee the campaign. Stern credited the other two organizations for providing much of the legwork for organizing the collection of sock donations on campus.

Hartford said that she is enthusiastic about the program and its ability to bring together various campus communities.

“Becca and Gemma are excellent people to work with,” she said.

Stern contacted Leibowitz soon after Lichtman brought the idea to Tufts, in order to start organizing donations and the logistics of collecting socks on campus. As an involved member of Hillel, Leibowitz, who is also a Features writer for the Daily, said she had already introduced sock donation boxes at Hillel for the High Holidays earlier this semester, because these holidays bring many Tufts students to Hillel.

“The baskets are almost full,” she said.

Hillel and Reslife will donate the socks collected after Dec. 1 to various Medford and Somerville homeless shelters with help from the Somerville Homeless Coalition.

Lichtman said she sees Knock Knock Give a Sock as “trick or treating meets changing the world.” She emphasized that what makes this campaign special is that it adds a social component to giving, with a small commitment leading to a large payoff.

Lichtman added that she hopes that Knock Knock Give a Sock will be implemented in the same manner on college campuses on an annual basis.

The efforts of Reslife and Hillel will help Lichtman work toward her goal of seeing 10,000 pairs of socks donated in the fall semester. Because apparel company Planet Sox has pledged to match Knock Knock Give a Sock for every pair of socks it collects, Lichtman is hoping that, in total, the campaign will be able to donate 20,000 pairs of socks this winter to those in need.

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