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Aaron Greenblatt: A young Mandela of the future

  • Aaron2
Last year, Aaron Greenblatt founded Aaron’s Rock Your Socks, a charity that collects socks for the needy, and was the youngest ever nominee at the SA Jewish Achiever Awards. A year on, the now nine-year-old powerhouse has been selected as the youngest of News24’s 100 Young Mandelas of the Future.
by OWN CORRESPONDENT | Jul 12, 2018

The 100 people chosen for this honour are showcased on a special Mandela 100 website, created by News24 to mark the centenary of this international icon’s birth on 18 July.

The website reflects on Mandela’s life and legacy, and celebrates the values he embedded in our national psyche: integrity, resilience, compassion and respect. The website also showcases articles written by thought leaders about Madiba’s legacy and lessons South Africans learnt from him.

Aaron – who continues with his nationwide campaign to collect and donate socks for the needy – was chosen among the 100 in the category of compassion. Clearly, the youngster has this quality in bucket loads.

This little boy also has a talent for social entrepreneurship. From the time he was able to walk and talk, he was keen to give away toys and anything he didn’t need to beggars at the traffic intersection near his home.

In March 2017, Aaron noticed the Facebook posts of Sole2Sole, an effort by Lead SA youth hero Dario Gouveia to collect shoes for the needy. His mom, Lee Greenblatt, recalls: “Aaron asked me: ‘How can they have shoes without socks?’” And so began Aaron’s Rock Your Socks, starting with a Facebook post asking people for sock donations.

The SA Jewish Report first got wind of Aaron and his work in June last year. His initial goal was to get 1 000 pairs of socks, but by then, he had already collected 7 000 pairs and handed out almost 6 000. His goal then became to collect a million pairs of socks and hand out 10 000 by the end of winter.

He collected through family, friends and social media. At the time, his mother said: “We have donated to a wide range of charities and organisations which have made contact with us, and one of Aaron’s favourite spots is Dukes Soccer Club from Alexandra township.”

Aaron was then nominated for an Absa Jewish Achiever Award in the young entrepreneur category.

Today, Lee says Aaron’s life is just “socks, socks, socks – it has been a little crazy”.

To date, Aaron has collected just over 30 000 pairs of socks and has handed out almost 28 000. He has handed out 14 000 school socks.

“We have joined the Community Hours team (a programme that matches youth to volunteering opportunities) and Aaron has been involved in some of their great initiatives,” says his mom.

One such initiative is the Redhill School Leadership Summit, where Aaron joined other child-headed charities and spoke about what he is doing. “You are never too young to make a change,” he told the audience.

“I am not fussy about the size or colour or shape of the socks, just as long as they aren’t smelly or holey. Sometimes people give us money and my mom will buy socks,” he said. Aaron’s aim is for “everyone to be the best they can be and to be happy”.

Lee told the SA Jewish Report this week: “I am not sure of Aaron’s goals now, but he keeps referring to a million pairs. I am not sure he has a room big enough for this. He also mentions that he would like to design bamboo socks for kids.”

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