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On July 15, France won the 2018 World Cup, but the real winners of the tournament are immigrants.

The French team won the prestigious tournament for the first time since 1998 with the majority of their team comprising players of African or Arab ancestry.

One of those star players is Kylian Mbappe. At 19, he became the youngest player since Pelé to score a goal at the World Cup final. He won FIFA's "Best Young Player" award after his win against Croatia and has also already been dubbed the next Cristiano Ronaldo.


But what makes Mbappe stand out isn't his impressive footwork and achievements. It's the obstacles he had to overcome.

Mbappe, like a lot of his teammates, comes from an immigrant family: His father originated from Cameroon and his mother, Algeria. But more notably, Mbappe grew up in a banlieue (considered a derogatory term for "suburb") on the outskirts of Paris.

The soccer star's backstory is significant considering that, in recent years, French society has not been too kind to African and Arab immigrants and their children.  

Since the 1980s, the French government has zoned off certain banlieues to immigrants coming from African and Arab countries. In these neighborhoods, about 36% of the residents live below the poverty line — tripling the national average. The unemployment rate is at 28%, twice that of France's national average.

It gets even worse for French Muslims, as their society continues to alienate them with head-covering bans and draconian anti-terrorism laws. In fact, while Muslims are only 10% of the French population, they make up 60-70% of France's prison population.

Mbappe serves as a beacon of hope for young children in France's poorest neighborhoods.

Despite being born in the country, the children of African and Arab immigrants still struggle to escape the second-class citizen treatment. Even professional soccer player Karim Benzema, a French-born son of French-born parents, finds that he is not considered to be a true French citizen due to his Algerian background. "If I score, I'm French. If I don't, I'm Arab," Benzema reportedly said a few years ago.

Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images.

But for young kids in banlieues, Mbappe is proof that triumph and acceptance can be in their own fates. In an interview with Al Jazeera, several children from Mbappe's home banlieue of Bondy expressed what France's World Cup win means to them.

"It makes me proud because he comes from the suburbs like me," Yanis Jean, a 14-year-old, told the news organization. "I want to be like him one day."

Loutfi Bechareff, 17, said that Mbappe has now made Bondy a recognizable neighborhood in Paris. "It makes me so happy because Mbappe comes from here so when people ask me where I play, I say AS Bondy and they immediately know where I come from."

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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Part of what makes the beauty of fall unique is that it's fleeting. Mother Nature puts on a vibrant show as she sheds what no longer serves her, inviting us to revel in her purposeful self-destruction. It's a gorgeous example of not only embracing change, but celebrating it.

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This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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