It’s a shining example of the Linden family coming together to “pay it forward.”
Linden High School seniors selling socks to help needy amputees were able to reach their goal thanks to a generous donation from two Linden police unions – who in turn were able to help homeless veterans.
Miesha Burnam and Nyssa Joseph started the “Socktober” project with the goal of selling 120 packs of socks at $12 each. That would allow them to purchase one above-the-knee prosthetic and one below-the-knee prosthetic through a group called LegWorks, which helps amputees in need.
The donations from Linden Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association Local No. 42 and the Linden Superior Officers Association purchased 17 pairs of socks, putting the Socktober project over the top as the calendar changed to November.
“Thank you so much for your help,” Burnam told the presidents of the two police unions, Officer Timothy Hubert and Sgt. Joseph Birch.
But the generosity didn’t stop there. The police unions then donated the socks to Backpacks for Life, a group that provides basic life essentials to homeless veterans.
That group was founded in 2014 by Marine Corps veteran Brett D’Alessandro, who visited LHS to accept the donation of socks. He said starting the group to help others helped him, too, as he struggled in reintegrate to society after a seven-month tour in Afghanistan.
“I knew there were so many veterans out there that needed help,” D’Alessandro said. “As I overcame my personal battles, I knew I could help veterans overcome theirs by giving them tools and resources that helped give me a second chance at life.”
Burnam and Joseph — who calls herself the silent partner in the Socktober project — are both students in the International Baccalaureate program, the most rigorous course of study at Linden High. They chose Socktober as their Creativity, Activity and Service community service project, which is required of all IB students. Samantha Kosty, a guidance counselor and coordinator of the CAS program, was instrumental in guiding the girls throughout the project.
They got the socks through a group called We Help Two. Half of the money goes to We Help Two to pay for the socks, and half goes to the charity of their choice: LegWorks.
“We forget how lucky we are to have two legs,” Burnam said at the start of the project. “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.”
Pictured at top, from left, are Sgt. Joseph Birch, president of the Linden Superior Officers Association; LHS senior Miesha Burnam; Backpacks for Life founder Brett D’Alessandro; LHS guidance counselor Samantha Kosty; LHS senior Nyssa Joseph; and Officer Timothy Hubert, president of Linden PBA Local No. 42.