Underwear, Socks, Shoes

If little things mean a lot, Project 680 www.project680.org is doing a whole lot of good in its local community outside Sacramento, California. Like providing the basics of socks, underwear and shoes to local kids in need.

The effort was started by Ryan Lundquist in December 2008, when he learned that there were 680 documented cases of “homeless” students in his local Folsom Cordova Unified School District. In desperation, the District Liaison for Homeless Services had contacted Ryan (who’d done work with the homeless in Sacramento) and shared story after story of local kids living in motels, in cars, in tents, in homes without electricity or water, in RVs, on the streets, or sofa-surfing in homes without a parent or legal guardian. Ryan thought, “This cannot happen in my town, on my watch.” So he went home and did something about it.

Activating his neighborhood association, he focused on what the liaison said was the most immediate need of the students: socks. The association reached out to other neighbors, put up posters, talked up the Sock Drive, and were met with an overwhelming generosity – instead of 680 pairs of new socks, the drive netted 3,144. Project 680 followed up with an underwear drive and brought in 3,198 pairs in all shapes, sizes and colors.

Now they’re buying new shoes for the kids, in partnership with Payless Shoes– and my $100 will add another 5 pairs. Or maybe they’ll use it for their next project: sending needy students with promise to leadership camp. The beauty of 680 is that it’s become a total community cause, with help flowing in from families, churches, clubs, businesses, neighborhoods, Girl Scouts, seniors, and city workers. Although Project 680 isn’t turning the tide of homelessness in these hard economic times (there are now 783 students living without “a fixed, regular and adequate residence” in the district) it’s bringing the community together to help those less fortunate in a very tangible way. From lemondade stands to bike rides, people are coming out to contribute.

“Advocating for local homeless students doesn’t require a degree in rocket science, but only a willing heart to love in simple ways,” Ryan says. And what town/community/city/state/country/planet couldn’t benefit from a little more of that?