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#WhoWeAre

Sometimes, it's the little gestures in life that end up making the biggest difference. Just ask New York City bus driver Ron Ruiz.

He's driven countless people around the city on the job, but there was one passenger he won't ever forget.

She was an elderly woman who looked "completely lost," as he tells the story in the latest video from #WhoWeAre, a series by Upworthy and Storycorps. Ruiz asked the woman if she needed some help, and she told him she was meeting friends at a restaurant but didn't know where it was.


Most of us probably would've found such a response frustrating — he had a job to do, after all. Besides, he's a bus driver, not a chaperone. But that's not how Ruiz reacted at all.

He went above and beyond the call of bus driver duty for the woman. Ruiz stopped the bus at every restaurant he saw. He went inside to check for her friends. Finally, at the very last one on his route, he found them.

He didn't just drop the woman off and drive away either.

"I wanted to make her feel special, like it was a limousine," said Ruiz, explaining why he personally walked the woman into the restaurant to meet her friends.

She felt like Cinderella, she told him. Before they parted ways, she left him with a small confession — a diagnosis she had recently received. His small act of kindness would not soon be forgotten.

You never know what's going on in someone else's life. It can be easy, in the hustle and bustle of life, to find other people's needs a hinderance to your daily work. But when you take the time to remember that everyone else has highs and lows, successes and failures, and trials and tribulations just like you do, a little empathy and kindness can go a long way.

Hear Ron Ruiz tell the whole story of his unforgettable encounter in the video below:

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.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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