South Pasadena High Students Help Homeless with Sock Drive

For the third straight year, students in Ruth Moonesinghe’s calculus classes have collected socks for individuals living in L.A.’s Skid Row.

PHOTO: Kavan Moonesinghe | | A group of South Pasadena High students organized a sock drive that resulted in 1,000 being collected for the homeless. Helping this year were, from left, Sam Clark, Caroline Liu, Alekzander Grijalva, Sarah Uriarte, Michael Jia, Jamilah Hah, Francesco Fortunelli, Tiffany Mai and Michael Xiong.

Ruth Moonesinghe simply wanted to make a difference for those down on their luck.

With a heart of gold, the South Pasadena High calculus teacher approached one of her classes three years ago with the idea of launching a sock drive to help the homeless on Skid Row in Los Angeles.

Jumping at the opportunity, students Tiffany Chen and Caroline Liu stepped up to the plate as administrators of the program.

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“It was a rather daunting goal,” admits Liu of the effort to collect 700 pairs of socks the first year. “However, we were pretty determined to reach it.”

Getting the word out to students on campus through a number of platforms, Chen and Liu won the support of the student body and, in the end, 525 pairs were brought to the school.

The organizers experienced the exhilaration and joy of giving back “in a tangible and understandable way,” recalls Liu, who joined a small group of friends who passed out the socks to the less fortunate.  “When we went down to Skid Row it really struck a twinge in my heart. With the level of poverty and harshness that the people face every day, it was unimaginable.”

The success of the first effort, prompted Liu to continue as administrator the following year whilst training two future administrators, Michael Xiong and Alekzander Grijalva. She and some friends set a goal to collect 1,000 pairs of socks.

The second sock drive expanded to include community members and business owners, including The Urban Pet, which played a big role in getting the word out. Social media, posters and banners around campus, along with word spreading at the city’s annual Tiger Run, an annual 5K/10K event, which supports the SPHS Booster Club, opened the door for another successful drive.

More than over 2,000 pairs of socks were collected in year two, thus prompting Ruth Moonesinghe to invite the dedicated students down to Skid Row to volunteer with Sharing Hands. Sharing Hands, a volunteer charity organization which meets the first Saturday of the month to package approximately 1,000 bag lunches for distribution to the homeless, was started in 2016 by Arjuna Dominic, who graciously volunteers his home monthly. “We’re just a group of friends who get together to try and make a difference” says Dominic.

This year, Liu handed the baton to a core group of about seven students, mostly sophomores and juniors, including new administrator trainees Sam Clark and Jamilah Hah, two sophomores. Hah when asked about her experience this year says, “It felt good to know that in some place, we were making a difference in someone’s life. It was knowing that something that may be insignificant to us can be major for someone else that made me realize how fortunate my life is.

Members of Sharing Hands collected approximately 1,000 pares of socks that will soon be taken to the needy in downtown Los Angeles.

Liu, the sock drive’s biggest supporter, tells us those who are part of Sharing Hands have inspired her in more ways than just sock donations and says “this experience has opened our eyes to the troubles and issues that pervade our society without the prejudices and preconceived notions we’ve always been taught”.