It’s raining today in New York. And when I woke up, feeling like a heavy lump of a human being, I considered staying in bed. And then I looked at my phone, like the machine that I am, and checked Twitter and my email and other information providers, and that information slowly began to lay punches onto my right cheek. One by one. Slow, hard fists to my face. Bam: neo-Nazis here. Bam: neo-Nazis there. Bam: Donald Trump said this. Bam: the world is freaking out. Bam: stay in bed, there’s nothing out there for you but hate, and commentary on that hate, that altogether creates a veritable grave of information that bleeds gravel all over me, you, everyone.
And then there’s the good news, the kind of uplifting stuff of the Earth that gets you out of bed, re-energizes that gear you’ve put into neutral, and let’s you know that there is good in the world yet.
Meet Drew Frank, a teenager from Texas who had his bar mitzvah this summer and decided to use the occasion to raise money to buy sneakers for middle school kids, and women and children at an orphanage. “When I was thinking of an idea to work on for my bar mitzvah, I wanted to do a [service] project that was involved with something I enjoyed and liked a lot—and I have a passion for sneakers,” Drew told El Paso Inc. “So I decided to raise money to buy sneakers for kids who are less fortunate than me.”
The young man, who comes from a philanthropic-minded family, called his efforts “Drew’s Sneaker Give-Away.”
So he had a bar mitzvah part in L.A., where he had sneaker centerpieces and used the Nike-esque hashtag #JustDrewIt and probably had a grand ol’ time playing Pepsi and Coke and Sprite and wearing plastic sunglasses and garlands. In lieu of gifts, the 250 attendees wrote checks for a grand total of $30,000, or “enough to buy nice Nikes and new socks for a whole school full of children, plus almost 70 kids at the Lee and Beulah Moor Children’s Home. USA Today reported on the specifics of his efforts:
In collaboration with the Braden Aboud Foundation, [Drew] purchased 800 pairs of Nikes and 800 pairs of socks. Over 400 pairs of those shoes were donated to a public elementary school in a lower-income neighborhood. The other shoes will go to a local orphanage and a YWCA transitional living center for women and children.
“I’m giving sneakers to these kids who may otherwise not have new sneakers,” he said. “They just get shoes that have been passed down from generation to generation. I just wanted to give back to these kids who are less fortunate than me.”
That’s right. Pay it forward, kid. The world is a better place because of you.
Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.