You may remember this past October as “SOCKtober,” where Madison Local students were encouraged to bring in new or unused socks to be donated to the homeless. SOCKtober was created by MHS sophomore, Nadia Cruz, the founder of Nadia’s Soft Smiles, a charity that donates socks to the homeless. Since its founding, Nadia has been able to donate over 12,000 pairs of socks to the homeless and less fortunate.
Nadia founded Nadia’s Soft Smiles when she was in the fourth grade; she affectionately remembers watching Ellen with her mom and being inspired by another 9 year old who filled brown paper bags with necessary items and gave them out to the homeless. “She went straight to the kitchen and tried to pull cans of food down from the cabinets,” her mother Renee Cruz remembers, “She and the boy on Ellen were the same age, and she told me very confidently that if he could help people while being so young, so could she.”
It wasn’t until she went back to school that she and her fourth grade teacher came up with the idea of donating socks to the homeless, instead of cans of food. That year, Nadia was able to donate over 800 pairs of socks to Hope Chest and Laura’s Home in Cleveland.
As she entered high school, Nadia took the year off from collecting socks. She started up the charity again this summer, and brought the fundraiser to Madison Local Schools. Both the elementary and middle schools collected socks to donate, and the high school even created a contest: which class could donate the most socks by the end of one week. The three classes that brought in the most pairs of socks would receive a party in celebration of giving back to the less fortunate.
Thanks to Madison Local Schools, friends, family, and others, Nadia was able to collect over 2,000 pairs of socks. Due to COVID-19, many donation centers are closed or have limited hours, so Nadia has not yet decided where all the socks will go, though Nadia’s Soft Smiles always makes sure to try Lake County charities first to see who in the immediate area is in need. In addition, Nadia and her mom also make sure to donate to Job & Family services for their Back-to-School bash, where they fill backpacks to give to students who do not have the ability to purchase new clothes, school supplies, and other resources.
“My favorite part of Nadia’s Soft Smiles is being able to help those who are in need,” says Nadia. “It’s heartwarming when I get to see the people who are receiving the socks, and know that we are helping people.”