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In 2002, entertainment producer David Levinson wanted to do something good for his community. So he called up a local shelter for runaway teens and asked what type of help they needed.

He says the caseworker he spoke to said something really interesting: "She said, 'Our kids don't need help. They want to give help.'"

That surprised him. The kids at the shelter didn't have much — and yet, they still wanted to give to others.


All photos courtesy of Big Sunday.

With this in mind, Levinson organized a carwash to raise money for Students Run LA, which trains at-risk youth to run a marathon. Volunteers came not just from the shelter as well as many different youth groups from around the city.

"They raised about 400 bucks, which was nice," Levinson says. "But what was great was that they did it together."

That was an aha moment for Levinson, who decided his goal wasn't community service, but rather, community-building.

From this, Levinson created Big Sunday — a nonprofit with the mission of using service to bring communities together.

Big Sunday does lots of things to help build communities. They organize events to bring people together. They coordinate places for people to donate their old stuff. They find sponsors to create emergency funds for people in need. And, no matter the person, they will always have something for everyone to do — and everyone is always welcome.

"We have people who help us who are homeless people and we have people who are movie stars and CEOs," Levinson says. "Everyone is treated and valued the same."

Not all of their events are service-oriented, but service does make up the majority because, according to Levinson, its inclusivity makes it the best way to bring people together.

"You're never too young, you're never too old, you're never too rich, you're never too poor, you're never too abled, you're never too disabled to help somebody else," says Levinson. Community service isn't just for people with tons of extra money and time. It's for everyone.

Of course, some people can't afford to prioritize helping others because they're in need of help themselves. And that's OK! But for anyone with a desire to help, no limitation will prevent Big Sunday from finding a way for them to do so.

Some people have time, but no money — they become volunteers. Some have money, but no time — they provide funding for projects like the Big Sunday Emergency Fund, which helps people with unexpected expenses.

For any prohibitive activity — something physical, something expensive, something difficult, something that requires a specific skill — Big Sunday finds a way for everyone to participate.

At the heart of Big Sunday's mission is Levinson's belief that community-building is what the world needs most.

"There's so much hatred and animosity out there," Levinson says, "but it's really fear." Fear of the unknown, fear of things we've never interacted with and can't understand — these are the stumbling blocks that Levinson believes community-building can help eliminate.

"Here in LA, for example, a lot of people in Beverly Hills have never been to South Central Los Angeles, and they're nervous to go," he says. "But there's just as many people from South Central who've never been to Beverly Hills, and they're just as nervous." Big Sunday works to put people who are vastly different alongside each other, sharing a common task.

"Now that person you're standing next to isn't the lady from Beverly Hills or the kid from Watts, or the family from Boyle Heights or the couple from Koreatown. They're a person with a name," Levinson explains. "It's way hard to hate somebody when they have a name."

The best thing about Big Sunday? They want to get everyone involved.

"We specialize in the reluctant volunteer," Levinson laughs.

The Big Sunday team prides itself on being able to find a helpful activity for absolutely everyone. Their list is long — offering everything from monthly events to service-oriented special occasion planning to coordinated donations and more. And their staff is just waiting to meet their next request. "We like a challenge," Levinson claims.

So get involved! It's super easy to get involved with Big Sunday — after all, their mission is to make volunteering possible for everyone! You can get started on their about page, which has lists of their established activities, to give you an idea of what you might be interested in.

But you don't need to work with Big Sunday to do something good for your community. Check your local churches, scout groups, community centers, and volunteer organizations. If you have money but no time, consider donating cash or food to a worthy cause. If you have time, but no money, look for clean-ups or food drives where you can spend a Saturday or two!

Big Sunday isn't just an organization — it's an attitude, and a shining example for communities everywhere. No matter where we live, who we are, or what we bring to the table, we have something we can do to help another person. And in doing that, we might just bring our community a little closer.

Clarification 7/25/2017: The headline has been changed to clarify Levinson's role.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

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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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