By Chris Wragge

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A chance encounter with a homeless person laid the foundation for a charity that’s given out more than a million pairs of socks to those in need.

As CBS2’s Chris Wragge reports, Adina Lichtman is a whirlwind.

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“We have 200 backpacks to fill,” Lichtman said. “The socks are in those three boxes, we’re going to put a pair in each.”

She loaded backpacks with books and toys – and socks  – which is the heart of her mission – for a children’s winter carnival.  Lichtman is the founder of “Knock Knock Give A Sock.”

“Knock Knock Give A Sock is an organization that focuses on humanizing homelessness, one sock at a time,” Lichtman said.

She says socks are one of the most requested – and least donated – items at shelters. Her sock-focused operation is not only to give pairs to those in need but to create a meaningful connection between some donors and shelter residents at shared dinners she arranges.

“They’ve actually told me that black socks are something that they prefer. And just because, you know ,when you’re wearing the same sock, you know, for a week or two at a time, the white socks often get, like, discolored,” Lichtman said. “How do you make homelessness a personal issue? When you build a relationship. When you build a friendship.”

She started Knock Knock Give A Sock in college, nine years ago. She’s also written two children’s books about what a pair of socks can mean, which she also gives out.

This grassroots organization used her parents garage for staging. The group not only helps the homeless, Lichtman hires shelter residents like Tyrone Backus to work for her.

“It’s great. Because, like I say, I was looking for some something to do with my time that said, you know, to give back for all these years,” Backus said.

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“Makes me feel like I’m making a difference. I’m, like, I’m creating the change,” said Hayden Allison.

Allison and Willie Woods are also shelter residents working for Knock Knock Give A Sock.

“It makes me actually makes me feel like I have worth again. One of the biggest things that, when you’re homeless, is how much you lose your sense of self worth, how many, how much people don’t want to interact with you,” Woods said.

The last part of this job entails bringing a few hundred pairs of socks to Project Renewal, a shelter on East 3rd street in Manhattan.

“That sense of hope that Adina provides for the for the guys, I think that’s – and not, not give us up. It’s amazing. You know, they feel great. And you see the change in them. You see the they walk different, you know, they carry themselves different,” said Robert Lashley, assistant director of Project Renewal.

Lashley says sometimes it’s the smallest gestures that make the biggest difference.

“You don’t need a cup of hot chocolate. I think just a nice warm pair of socks, and it’ll do the job for you as well,” Lashley said.

For more information about Knock Knock Give A Sock, CLICK HERE. For more information about Project Renewal, CLICK HERE.

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Chris Wragge