The proceeds for this piece will go to buy socks for the homeless this holiday season. I requested my family and friends not buy me gifts this year. This is the only gift I want, and I’m sure, one I’ll always remember!
Below is the inspiration for this charity:
“Socks for Lukas”
I was visiting Amsterdam with a friend during cold december, 2003. Midst our stay of two weeks, while exploring the city through its’ winding streets and canals, we often randomly encountered the same homeless individual.
He was a young man with a tall slim lonely frame. Though his appearance was weathered, it seemed he was fairly new to this habitat. Like a scavenger of the tundra, clumsily and awkwardly trying to survive his surroundings, only months after being abandoned. Each time when we saw him, when he wash’t digging through a trash can, he would ask us for some extra change. And when he walked away empty handed, he left us the same genuine and friendly smile. An honest smile. And a gleam of hope in his eye.
After about the 8th random encounter, we decided to create a care package, just in case we ran into this young man again. We collected all the loose change we had, bought snacks to curb his hunger, a few beers to help him keep warm, and a book to occupy his mind. And as an afterthought, I threw in a pair of my socks.
Two days had gone by, and we didn’t run into him at all. With only hours to go before we had to catch our flight, he couldn’t rely on a random encounter. We had to find him ourselves. So we looked everywhere. And talked to everyone, describing this individual in hopes that we may find clues to his whereabouts. When the hope of finding this man were all but lost, a friendly street performer in Dam Square, pointed in the direction of where he saw him a few minutes before.
Sure enough, he was the young man we were looking for. We waited patiently, for a minute, while he finished digging through the trash can. We introduced ourselves.
His name was Lukas. He was 24 and from Poland. He had left his country and poverty a year ago to chase his dream of becoming a DJ. But a fire destroyed his apartment and all of his equipment, leaving him homeless and penniless and to fend for himself. I asked him why he didn’t just go back to his family in Poland. He said:
“I don’t have any money to go back. And even if I did, I would be paying for a train ticket to go back to poverty, and in a situation without hope. There is no hope, where I am from.”
He left us the same genuine and friendly smile. An honest smile. And a gleam of hope in his eyes. And we left humbled.
On our way to the airport, we walked in silence. A slight drizzle of freezing rain escorted us out. And Lucas occupied our minds. When Centraal Station was in sight, where we would catch a train to the airport, we heard a familiar voice in form of a shout. We turned around to see Lucas and a smile stretched across his face. Another random encounter.
More than happy to see us, he thanked us repeatedly for the money, the snacks, the cans of beer and the book. He was beyond grateful. And then he said:
“Of all the things you gave me, do you know what I appreciated the most?”
I had figured it was the money, the food, or the beer. But to my surprise, I was wrong.
And he replied, “The socks. I appreciated the socks the most. It’s something that we need but no one thinks about giving them.”
A warm pair of socks on our feet, just something else we take for granted.
Not just for this holiday season, but for anytime of the year, if you can spare an extra pair of socks you may give someone hope. Proceeds of this original Lola painting will go towards socks for those in need. Thank you for support. They will thank you for the hope.