Michigan teen on mission to collect 10,000 pairs of socks and underwear for the homeless

17-year-old Michael Tengler from Grosse Pointe has launched
Posted at 9:04 AM, Apr 06, 2021

(WXYZ) — If there’s one thing that’s been a constant in 17-year-old Michael Tengler’s life, it’s a desire to give back.

"I’ve been volunteering with my parents like pretty regularly since I've been six, seven, eight years old," said Tengler.

So when the pandemic hit, and there were limited in-person ways to help, the Grosse Pointe teen and his family got creative.

"We were making sandwiches, 120 sandwiches between our family every Thursday. And then we felt like we wanted to expand on that," he said.

The expansion of their efforts led to a new mission: to collect socks and underwear for those in need.

"We decided on socks and underwear because it's the most requested item from the homeless, but it's the least donated," he said.

And so was born HappyCheeks, an organization Tengler created to help encourage donations of packages of socks and underwear for the homeless.

"Right now we're at something like 3,200 pairs through six months ... I myself have kind of set the goal that I think that would be awesome to hit 10,000 before I leave for college, which would be in like 16, 17 months," said Tengler.

Tengler said he’s been donating the collected items to area shelters, like the Second Mile Center of Detroit. He also gives donations to Operation Love Our Homeless.

"One man asked ... 'can I get a second pair, because I don't have underwear?' So it's just like they're super appreciative, because there's really a need ... in the homeless community," he said.

He says he’s also been throwing a few packs in his car, handing them out to people he sees asking for help on the street.

Tengler, who describes himself as a lucky teen, said he gives back because he understands just how fortunate he is.

"We're fortunate enough to live, like, in a in a nice community, nice neighborhood with all the necessities, like food ... on our table, a roof over our heads, ... clothes on our body," he said.

If you’d like to donate socks or underwear to HappyCheeks, click here.

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