“In seventh grade, I grew up fast. My father was taken away to prison. This really hit hard, as my father played a huge part in my early life. What was even tougher was seeing my mom in the Intensive Care Unit that same month. I was now living with just my brother, trying to lead the same lives we were before and wondering if we would ever see our parents again. We were almost homeless without them. Those experiences have stayed with me, pushing me to live my Judaism through acts of social justice. I began feeding the homeless in 2017, and as time went on, I knew I needed to do more to help them. After much research, I realized the most overlooked and necessary article of clothing was socks. That led me to create the No Footprint Left Behind sock and shoe drive. Over a year and a half, I collected more than 2,500 pairs of socks and 150 pairs of shoes. My classmates began asking me for more information on homelessness and what else they could do to help underserved populations in our community. Now, each time I go to feed the homeless, a group of students join me. My work with the homeless is far from over. I hope to continue the No Footprint Left Behind sock and shoe drive, collecting and delivering socks and shoes for the homeless population near the University of Florida, where I’ll begin studying this fall, in addition to the South Florida and Orlando communities. I also want to get involved on my campus, performing acts of community service to help underserved students.” — Andrew Kaye, University of Florida
Andrew Kaye is a recipient of the inaugural Handeli First-Year Student Scholarship from Hillel International. Learn more about Hillel scholarships for Jewish students by visiting hillel.org/scholarships.