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State Honoree

Matthew Renzulli

New Jersey

Matthew Renzulli, 18, of Wayne, N.J., a senior at Wayne Hills High School, organized an extensive collection effort that has yielded more than 28,000 pairs of socks for homeless and other disadvantaged people in Paterson, N.J. When he was very young, Matthew volunteered with his family at a homeless shelter called Eva's Village, where he met a homeless man who wore sandals with no socks, even in the bitter cold of winter. "His feet suffered greatly from the effects of his diabetes," said Matthew. "I thought I must do something to help him and others who came to Eva's Village."

Matthew began buying and making sock collection containers and asking local churches, schools and businesses if he could place them on their premises. He now picks up sock donations every week from more than 45 "Eva's Sock Drops" in six counties; counts, sorts and packages the socks; and stores them in his garage until they are delivered to Eva's Village. He also has been able to pass along donations of underwear, hats, gloves and scarves to the shelter. In addition, he has involved his school in the project, arranging for students to get activity and car wash discounts if they donate a pair of socks. "I am fortunate that I have been able to help poor and needy people in the inner city," said Matthew. "Hopefully, the contribution of clean, warm socks has helped bring some joy and comfort to these people."