GREAT NECK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A young man on Long Island is trying to change lives, one pair of socks at a time.

He’s being honored for his extraordinary efforts.

As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Monday, Jackson Southerland is like a lot of kids, passionate about basketball. But the 13-year-old has a passion for something else many his age know little about: Homelessness.

“You never know what could happen. I could be homeless right now,” he said.

Jackson is giving away his socks and sneakers to a cause he discovered on family outings to New York City.

“He would demand that we stop and either give them food if we had in the car, or actually give money,” said his mother Lissa Southerland.

“One time a homeless person literally gave me a hug and started crying. Ever since then I always try to give back,” Jackson said.

So began a mission, with one often overlooked item that’s desperately needed.

“Socks are the number one thing. When people come into the shelter they often don’t have anything on their feet or they are wet or soiled,” Lissa said.

Jackson launched a sock drive, a hundreds poured in.

“We kept getting socks and socks and socks,” Jackson said.

“Literally we had people dropping off socks at our door,” Lissa said.

Jackson is now collecting an award named “Unsung Hero” by the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless. He’s the youngest recipient in a decade.

“The fact Jackson has been able to bring awareness to his community, which is relatively affluent, is phenomenal. When we live in the lap of luxury we think everybody lives the same way that we do,” said Yvonne Mann of the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless.

He and his family are inspiring others to give back.

“Be grateful because you never know what can happen. Your mom or dad could lose their job and you could be in the same position,” Jackson said.

“One sock, one shoe at a time. I think sometimes as New Yorkers we become jaded with the homeless… but at the end of the day, to whom much is given, much is required. So let’s do,” said his dad Jack Southerland.

This year’s sock drive begins Nov. 1, and this year will feature collection boxes inside stores in the Village of Great Neck.

“If you have extra money, extra socks, extra clothes, anything to give to the homeless people, they need it right now, more than ever,” Jackson said.

Proving something so small and someone so young can make a difference.

For more information on the award and the sock donation drive, click here.

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