Zachary Wolfson, 18, of Franklin, Tenn., a senior at Franklin High School, runs an organization that collects clothing and shoes for homeless teens and raises awareness of their situation. It started with a family trip to New York City. On a frigid December night, his family rounded a busy corner and saw a lightly clothed boy lying on a tattered piece of cardboard in an alley. “Pedestrians walked by him as if he were nothing but an inanimate object,” said Zachary. “This broke my heart. For the first time in my life, I realized that this could have just as easily been me.” The next month, he held his first winter coat drive, collecting 70 garments. “But I knew I had only made a tiny dent in Nashville’s teen homeless problem,” he said. “I knew I needed to do more.”
So, two years ago Zachary founded a teen-run charity called “Threads of Care” to conduct clothing drives and fundraisers for homeless kids and to create awareness through social media. Zachary spent the summer before his junior year building a website and a blog platform. He then asked nonprofit organizations that serve homeless teens to help distribute his donations, gave interviews to local media, and recruited volunteers at schools in central Tennessee. As executive director, he now oversees a team of 20 student leaders and 180 teen volunteers at seven high schools. Thus far, his organization has collected over 9,400 articles of clothing and more than 600 pairs of shoes, raised over $3,600, and written 53 blog posts about teen poverty. Most of what Threads of Care has collected has been donated to Oasis Center, which serves teens living on Nashville’s streets.