Stepping up for a cause

Students lend a helping foot to Lawrence families

By Veda Cobb

During the month of October, donation boxes line the hallways, waiting for socks to warm the feet of Ballard Center patrons.

Socktober is a movement initiated by SoulPancake — a nonprofit organization started by actor Rainn Wilson — that kicked off at LHS the first of the month with collection boxes placed in classrooms.

The LHS chapter of the National Honor Society, sponsored by English teachers Shannon Draper and Michael Carriger, is championing the project to collect socks and diapers for the Ballard Community Center and Penn House throughout the month of October.

“I started looking for projects that I thought would be community-minded and would also benefit young people,” Draper said. “I first heard about [Socktober] on Kid President’s Twitter account…I looked into seeing what it entailed, and it seemed like a really good fit for what we wanted to do.”

NHS’s goal is to gather 1,000 pairs of socks in children’s sizes 1-6 and all adult sizes as well as 300 packs of diapers by the end of the month.

Draper and members of NHS planned the drive. They started off their Sept. 28 meeting by delegating tasks and establishing goals.

“We have about 1,600 students and 200 faculty and staff here at [LHS],” Draper said.“I started thinking, if we really put our minds to it, that’s maybe one sock for every person to get us to the goal. It just seemed like it was doable.”

While 300 packs of diapers may not seem significant compared to the requested pairs of socks, it would be more than enough to make a difference in what families would be able to receive from the Ballard Center and Penn House.

“For a lot of the families that are living at or below the poverty line in Lawrence, [diapers] are an expense that’s really hard to keep up with,” Draper said. “I thought it would be so nice if we could say we’ve given almost a year’s worth supply to Ballard and Penn House so that every week, at least one family could come in and get something if they needed to. There would always be something there.”

NHS members have shown positive attitudes about the drive and said that the goal seems attainable.

“I think that when students are involved and invested and see it tangibly affects people in their own community and their own school, that can be rest before success,” said NHS President Stefan Petrovic. “I think it’s a good enough cause. Obviously there’s people who are busy and there’s different things they need to do, but I hope that somebody could take the time out of their day and think about someone else.”

Donations will be taken to the Ballard Center at 708 Elm St. and Penn House at 1035 Pennsylvania St. at the end of October. More than 8,000 people in Douglas County benefit from the Ballard Center yearly, whether it be for early education, food or clothing.

Ballard Community Services provides necessities to low-income Lawrence citizens. It focuses on affordable early education at a high standard and basic living assistance to families and individuals of low income.

Penn House, one of the other Ballard Community Services facilities, provides food and clothing, assistance with rent and utilities, and training for individuals who are unemployed but looking to find work.

“I think the great thing about [Socktober] is that with the Ballard Center, a lot of kids that we’re going to be affecting right now are going to be coming to [LHS] in future years,” NHS secretary Emily Alt said. “I think those kids are going to care about that a lot… and they’re going to get involved.”