Philadelphia teen collects socks for the homeless

Beccah Hendrickson Image
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Philadelphia teen collects socks for the homeless
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When 13-year-old Declan Cassidy gets in the car with his mom, they'll often make unexpected stops to hand out care packages to people in need.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A teenager in Northeast Philadelphia is helping people in need get life's basic necessities. It's a venture he started because of his own family experience.

When 13-year-old Declan Cassidy gets in the car with his mom, Jennifer, who they run into may be more important than where they were planning to go.

"I have Narcan everywhere," said Jennifer Malazita. "You don't know if they're going to make it or not, and a lot of people just walk right by."

Often, they'll make unexpected stops to hand out care packages to people in need.

"It's a way to build trust with someone and get to know them, and eventually, they'll ask for help," said Jennifer.

When she started doing this years ago, she was looking for a specific person; her daughter, Amber.

"I didn't know where to go. Her addiction became my addiction," she said. "I was consumed with trying to save her."

Declan was often in tow.

"My mom always helped out and went down to Kensington and she sometimes took me, so I felt bad seeing all the people on the streets," he said.

At 10 years old, Declan realized what people living on the street often needed was socks.

"And he just decided one day why can't we do our own fundraiser," said Jennifer.

They called it Declan's Socks For the Streets, and the simple fundraiser quickly grew. Last year, they passed out more than 20,000 pairs.

About two years ago, Amber got clean. She came home to find out about the work her little brother was doing for people like her in her situation. She's now on the board of his official non-profit.

"We didn't expect this," said Jennifer. While she was looking for her daughter, Declan found his passion. It's one the whole family shares.

"I want him to look at that person and see them as a person, not a homeless person on the street," said Jennifer.