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Joy

A 12-year-old was told his woodworking hobby wasn't cool. One tweet changed everything.

He went from six Instagram followers to raising more than $300,000 with one bowl for Ukraine.

A 12-year-old was told his woodworking hobby wasn't cool. One tweet changed everything.

Gabriel Clark's woodworking hobby just became very, very cool.

One of the tough things about being middle-school-aged is that interests and hobbies that are cool to everyone who isn't middle-school-aged are often seen as not cool by your peers. Unfortunately, that can lead a lot of kids to abandon things they love.

A dad who didn't want to see that happen inadvertently set off an avalanche of support and generosity when he tweeted about a lack of peer support for his son's woodworking hobby. Gabriel Clark, his 12-year-old son, has loved making things with wood since he was first handed his grandfather's hammer when he was 3 or 4 years old. "I've always had a real passion for it," Gabriel told PEOPLE, "and I've just taught myself everything I know."

Gabriel's father, Richard Clark, explained how sharing his son's struggles with his peers over his hobby blew up the internet over the past few weeks.

"Three weeks ago my youngest, Gabriel 12, came home upset," Clark wrote in a tweet on April 15. "His love of woodwork was not deemed cool, nor was only having 6 followers on his Instagram.


"His Dad was upset too. It's hard watching your children battling with life. But what to do? Mum wasn't around, so Dad, the impulsive fool that he is, instead reached out to the lovely people on Twitter. Maybe he could persuade some of them to follow his son?"

Clark's tweet on March 25 had read: "Lovely twitter people - I don't know how many of you are also #instagram users but I'm looking for a wee favour. I've a 12yr old who loves woodwork. He spends hours on his lathe making bowls and creating chopping boards which he's sells to save up for a mountain bike. So I was wondering if any of you fancied giving him a boost and following him on instagram at clarkie_woodwork it would make his day. Thanks in advance and feel free to retweet!"

Clark said his son was aiming for 60 followers.

But very soon, Clark's Instagram follower count rocketed into the hundreds, then the thousands.

Within days, that number had exploded to more than 225,000—and more than 20,000 orders for Gabriel's handmade bowls and chopping boards.

Knowing there was no way for him to fulfill that many orders—or anything even close to it—the young man decided to just make one special bowl to auction as a fundraiser for Ukraine.

He created a bowl made of beech wood, which includes a blue band and a yellow band, reflecting the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

The Clark family set up a Just Giving page with a goal of raising £5,000 and invited people to donate for a chance to win the bowl in a drawing.

And as happened with Gabriel's Instagram following, the amount just kept growing and growing.

With the increased giving came increased hope.

"What if we threw caution to the wind and let go of our cynicism and really went for it?" Richard Clark wrote. "What if we blew this silly tale of a small boy and his bowl out of the water with a last swing shot around the moon?"

He suggested people pool together to chip in and see if they could give the Save the Children Ukraine Appeal £100,000.

As it turned out, £100,000 was not only doable, but surpassable. As of April 16, they'd raised £150,000 and Gabriel shared a message of thanks.

The drawing was held, but it still wasn't over. The Ukraine bowl has now gone to a donor somewhere south of where the Clarks live…

…but the Clarks decided to keep the fundraiser open a little bit longer, as people moved by Gabriel's story were still wanting to donate.

With Gabriel's Instagram following blossoming to 250,000, it only seems fitting that the fundraiser should push for £250,000.

As of the writing of this article, it's at £246,711 (over $320,872). Clark said the fundraiser will stay open until Saturday.

"It's all too much. I need to sleep," Richard Clark wrote. "I leave everything to you. RT if you wish. Or not. You've all done more than enough. The fundraiser closes on Saturday regardless. Tread kindly good people and bless you all."

Social media really can be used for good, friends.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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