While on vacation in San Francisco last summer, 16-year-old Ashton Strand, a student at Northern Waters Environmental School, met someone who was formerly homeless. The woman lived on the streets for a number of years because of domestic abuse.
She now conducts tours of San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, an area that is heavily populated with homeless communities. She also helps educate people about the heartbreaking problem of homelessness.
After returning from his vacation, Ashton decided to do his independent learning presentation about homelessness. In talking to the woman, he learned that items very commonly needed by the homeless are socks. He decided to learn more about this problem, and to help families experiencing homelessness in Sawyer County.
Area churches, agencies and the primary school were contacted to see if they would help collect socks. And that’s how the project called “Sock it to Sawyer County” began.
What followed was an amazing outpouring from caring people at Grace Lutheran Church, Element Church, Spider Lake Church, Main Street Campus, Northern Lights Christian Academy, Northwest Connection Family Resources and the Hayward Primary School. Ashton collected 1,130 pairs of socks, which have been delivered to New Reflections Pathway to Hope, LCO Oakwood Haven, Elizabeth Home of Hope, the Salvation Army and Serenity Club.
A men’s shelter is expected to open sometime in the future, and Ashton is setting aside socks for them. After the socks were counted, Ashton received a check from Grace Lutheran (Mission and Outreach) for $100 to purchase women’s and children’s socks.
With its independent learning studies, Northern Waters Environmental School helps students to learn about things in the environment or community that the students are passionate about. Topics must meet at least one of the following criteria: environmental connection, community connection and connection to the student and his or her future goals. Ashton’s project is an example of how the students are helping the community.