Brendan Hung, 17, of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, a junior at Radnor High School, founded a nonprofit organization that has delivered more than 7,000 “support kits” to homeless youth shelters, and campaigned to raise international awareness of youth homelessness, through chapters in eight states, England and Australia. While researching a school project on homelessness in the fifth grade, Brendan visited a local shelter and met a boy his age named Isaiah, who said his favorite things were socks. “I soon decided I wanted to collect socks and other useful items for Isaiah and other homeless kids,” said Brendan. He asked friends, classmates and neighbors for help, and after a few weeks delivered 20 “support kits” to Isaiah’s shelter. The joy of that experience, he said, “immediately sparked a new desire to help as many homeless kids as I could.”
Brendan began recruiting volunteers from his school district to help him conduct donation drives to create more support kits. Schools, churches and businesses soon joined the effort. Meanwhile, Brendan formed a “Homeless Youth Project (HYP)” club at his school, created a website, and started speaking to student and community groups about the crisis of youth homelessness. Eventually, he persuaded friends in other states and countries to launch their own HYP chapters. In six years, Brendan’s organization has collected nearly 75,000 items to distribute in his support kits, including gloves, hats, hand warmers, toiletries, snacks and, of course, socks. The kits also contain information on where to get help, as well as a handwritten note telling recipients that they are not alone in their struggle.