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It's not often that a hate crime has a happy ending — or something close to it.

The True Islam Symposium at the Baitul Aman, or "House of Peace," mosque. Image by Wajid Ahmed/YouTube.


Back in November, angered by the terrorist attacks in Paris, Ted Hakey Jr. fired shots at an empty mosque near his house in Meriden, Connecticut.

The Hartford Courant reported that Hakey, a former Marine, pled guilty to intentional destruction of religious property in February. He is set to be sentenced in May and faces eight to 14 months in prison.

Five months later, he did something unusually brave: He stood up in front of members of the mosque and apologized.


"I want to just apologize to everybody," Hakey said at the event, hosted by the Baitul Aman mosque. "I really have no excuses, and I don't think you could imagine the amount of regret I have, and just the heartache I caused for everybody, brought discredit upon myself, the Marine Corps, everything I stand for."

The leaders of the mosque did something even braver, something they did not have to do: They forgave him.


"What was said that day made a huge difference to us," Mohammed Qureshi, president of the mosque, told the Courant. "We greeted and we hugged just like a Muslim neighbor. We know why he did what he did — because he never heard our message. We now see it in his heart and we see it in his eyes."

Hakey told them he wishes he'd gotten to know his Muslim neighbors better before leaping to conclusions about them.

Image by Wajid Ahmed/YouTube.

Qureshi said there were tears in the room as Hakey delivered his apology. After the event, Hakey gave and received hugs from congregants, many of whom reported being moved by what appeared to be a sincere plea for forgiveness.

"We look forward to being good neighbors in the future, and having a close friendship as well," Qureshi said after Hakey's address.

Sadly, Hakey wasn't alone in resorting to anti-Islam violence after the Paris attacks.

In the month following the November killings, there were nearly 40 documented attacks on Muslims in the United States. A Washington Post report found that hate crimes against Muslims are five times more common today than they were before Sept. 11, 2001.

An anti-Islam ad in the New York City subway in 2012. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

It's a danger that makes the Baitul Aman members' willingness to forgive all the more remarkable.

Hakey said that while "sorry" doesn't excuse his actions, he's grateful to the congregation for giving him the opportunity to learn.

His biggest regret was not having come by sooner.

"I was a neighbor, and I did have fear, and the fear was always when you don't know something," Hakey said in his address. "The unknown, you are always afraid. I wish that I had come and knocked on your door, and if I had spent five minutes with you, it would have been all the difference in the world. And I didn't do that."

You can watch Hakey's entire emotional apology below.

(The important part starts at 34:02)

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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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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