Vulnerable youth get chance at employment through local nonprofit

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Socks are one of the most requested and least donated items to homeless shelters, though with the help of a social organization called Hippy Feet advocates hope to give those without a home a place to rest their feet.

Hippy Feet specializes in cool socks and creating jobs, giving vulnerable youth the chance to secure a better future.

“We’re trying to get people up on their feet,” Sam Harper, COO of Hippy Feet said. “And not step on too many toes in the process.”

In between cracking foot puns, a group of homeless kids at Youth Link is folding, tying twine, attaching tags, packaging and counting inventory twice weekly, giving a few hours each day to help provide socks for those in need.

Of the homeless community in Minnesota, 6,000 people are between the ages of 16-24. 

“We have young people coming to us that don’t even have a birth certificate,” Heather Huseby, Executive Director of Youth Link said.  “We have young people that don’t have an ID card, we have young people coming to us that are starting at ground zero.”

Using a pop-up employment model, Hippy Feet works with organizations like Youth Link to fill more than 20 temporary jobs in the last eight months. Michael Mader, Founder of Hippy Feet, says those who work with him are able to build a more stable future and make lasting connections. 

"Three of them have actually been able to take that initial starting point of this pop up employment model and transition into full time employment elsewhere,” he said. “Three of those youth are actually housed and are no longer homeless."

To boot, each pair of socks you buy means Hippy Feet donates another to an organization that helps the homeless--and they're on a track to donate 10,000 socks by the end of the holiday season.  

You can find the pop-up shop at Hollidazzle in Minneapolis, and also along Nicollet Avenue during the days leading up to the Super Bowl.