Miesha Burnam is selling packs of colorful socks for $12 apiece throughout October, with all proceeds going to help provide prosthetics to amputees who can’t afford them. “We forget how lucky we are to have two legs,” she said.
By Gary Miller
“Small actions can impact the world in ways you don’t understand.”
Those are the words of Linden High School senior Miesha Burnam, who put that thought into action: She is taking the simple act of selling socks and turning it into the great hope of providing legs to amputees.
The project is called “Socktober” and runs through the end of the month. Burnam is selling packs of three pairs of socks for $12, and all the money raised goes toward providing prosthetics for amputees. To purchase the socks, email firstname.lastname@example.org or text 908-436-7143.
“We forget how lucky we are to have two legs,” Burnam said. “We use them every single day, to walk, to drive, whatever. So people who don’t have two legs, and can’t walk or work, are suffering. I wanted to help them to live their life the best way they possibly could.”
The project is part of her work with the high school’s Creativity, Activity and Service community service program. It is a requirement of the students seeking an International Baccalaureate degree, the school’s most demanding course of study.
“Miesha took this on all on her own,” said counselor Samantha Kosty, the CAS coordinator. “She ordered all the materials, she’s been giving out fliers – it’s fantastic. And it’s something different. It’s something most people don’t know about but it’s nice to see. I’m proud of her.”
Burnam credits science teacher Mark Pekosz with the idea. He told her about We Help Two, the group that provides the socks and gives all the profits to the seller’s charity of choice. Burnam’s money is going to LegWorks, which provides the prosthetics.
The socks are colorful and come in men’s, women’s, boys and girls styles. In addition, We Help Two gave Burnam plain gray winter socks that can be donated to the needy. She plans to give them to a worthwhile group in the Linden area to help as the weather gets colder.
Burnam said that if she sells 40 packs of socks, it will provide a below-the-knee prosthetic to an amputee. If she sells 80 packs, it will provide one above-the-knee prosthetic. Her goal is to sell 120 packs, so she can provide one of each type of leg. So far she has sold about 20 packs, so she’s looking to spread the word.
“A big part of the CAS program is to think globally but do locally,” Kosty said. “You know you can’t end the water crisis, but you can …”
“… take small steps to make a difference,” Burnam said, finishing the thought.
She said the types of service that CAS provides show that students can make a big difference.
“It really empowers me,” Burnam said. “I feel like as a student we forget what an impact we can have on our community. I think it’s cool to start something and execute something that’s going to help people.”
To emphasize to other students how important the project is, Burnam asked them to stand on one leg for a few minutes to get an idea of how difficult life can be for an amputee.
“I tore my ACL last year, so I had crutches for two months,” she said. “It was the worst part of my school year. I had to take the elevator every day and it was hard to walk. So I kind of experienced it, in a way, and I hated it.”
But she eventually got off the crutches. Not everyone is so lucky.
“Twelve dollars is a lot for three pairs of socks, we know that,” Kosty said. “But all proceeds go toward the cause. Those legs are expensive. We know people get wounded, but we don’t think, ‘Oh, they might need help paying for a leg.’ You think insurance would pay for it, but it doesn’t always. And some people don’t even have insurance.”
Like most seniors, Burnam is busy planning for what’s next. She wants to major in international relations in college, and is considering George Washington University, Wellesley College and Seton Hall University.
But first she wants to leave her mark at LHS.
“With this program, I’m able to accomplish something that’s bigger than myself and my school,” she said.