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Teen uses bar mitzvah cash to donate 800 sneakers

Meredith Bland is a freelance writer whose work has appeared on Time.com, Brain, Mother, The Rumpus, Scary Mommy and Narratively, among others.

He got $25,000 for his bar mitzvah and spent it all on kids in need

What would you do with $25,000? You'd probably use it to pay off all your debts, put a down payment on a house or hire your own monkey butler to serve you at your new home in Barbados. Now imagine that you're a teenager — what would you do with $25,000 then? If you were most teens, you wouldn't spend all of that money on shoes and socks for kids in need. But Drew Frank of El Paso, Texas, isn't most teenagers.

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For 13-year-old Frank's bar mitzvah, he asked that instead of buying him gifts, guests donate cash instead. At first glance, one might think, "Man, that kid's got balls, asking for straight cash." But Frank was inspired to do something meaningful with the money after completing his bar mitzvah community service project. Frank, who says he has a "passion for sneakers," used every bit of the $25,000 he collected to purchase 800 pairs of Nike shoes and socks for local children.

Frank worked with the Braden Aboud Memorial Foundation, which hosts an annual shoe giveaway, to create Drew's Sneaker Give Away (hashtag, #JustDrewIt). Together, they donated the footwear Frank bought to 400 children at Beall Elementary School, which serves primarily lower income families, and 400 children living at an orphanage and at a YWCA transitional living center.

Said Frank: "I'm giving sneakers to these kids who may otherwise not have new sneakers. They just get shoes that have been passed down from generation to generation. I just wanted to give back to these kids who are less fortunate than me."

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Not a lot of people have $25,000 to give away, but this Thanksgiving there were other examples of kids giving their time and donated items to others. In Omaha, the group Partnership 4 Kids paired middle schoolers with students at the University of Nebraska Omaha to collect donations at local stores for the Hunger Collaborative, which works to fight hunger and poverty. And in Saratoga Springs, New York, a preschool class not only collected food and supplies for a local shelter, but had the kids deliver the donations themselves. Said the school's owner and director, Heather Stewart, "It's not going to stay in their consciousness unless they experience it firsthand... We hope they'll carry these memories and be the kind of citizens the country needs and be kind to people."

When we teach our kids to be good to others, and more important, when we take them out into the world and have them do something for others, we get kids like Drew Frank. And boy, could we could use a whole lot more of them these days.

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