WESTFIELD-Annabeth Lemberg is on a mission – to collect as many new heavy-duty socks as possible in the coming weeks to benefit the homeless in the city.
Lemberg, a sixth grade student at the Community Christian School in Granville, is calling the community outreach project a “Happy Feet for the Homeless Sock Drive” in conjunction with the Community Church of Westfield’s annual coat drive.
“With the cold weather approaching, we are collecting new socks to give out to the homeless of Westfield,” said Lemberg as noted on her promotional flyer. “We will be collecting for the whole month of October to help keep the homeless of Westfield warm for the winter.”
Lemberg, 11, is the daughter of MaryRenee and Matthew Lemberg of Westfield. They have been members of the church, formerly the Advent Christian Church, for four years.
“Homeless people don’t have a lot of supplies,” said Lemberg. “The socks will help keep them warm and they won’t get blisters on their feet.”
Lemberg, now starting her 10th year as a dancer at All-Stars Dance Center on Root Road, approached Kim Starsiak, owner and artistic director of the dance center, about her idea of setting up a collection box in the studio’s reception area so any one can drop off new socks for the drive.
“Kim liked the idea because I said we really need to help people this winter,” said Lemberg, adding, “We need socks for teens, young adults, women and especially men.”
Starsiak shared a similar sentiment.
“All-Stars will always support the community,” said Starsiak, adding, “We not only create amazing dancers but amazing people.”
“She’s an awesome kid, very thoughtful,” said Pastor Merle Beal, noting Lemberg’s sock drive is a perfect complement to the annual coat drive that the church on Elm Street sponsors.
Beginning Nov. 1, Beal said a large tote labeled “free coats” will be in the doorway of the church at 170 Elm St. so that any one who is need of a coat can access one.
“Each week we start with at least 10 coats and they are always disappearing,” said Beal, adding that during last winter, close to 100 coats in good condition were taken.
The coats ranged in sizes from children to teens and adults.
“What we tell people is to look at your coat closet and if you have a winter jacket or fleece that you aren’t using, consider donating it,” said Beal, adding that donations should be clean and in good condition.
“The other community project we are participating in is collecting warm hats and gloves in addition to Annabeth’s sock drive,” he said. “This ministry is supplying a need in the community.”
On the last Saturday of every month the church also opens its doors to serve a bag lunch as well as provide canned goods that will help those in need.
“Our parishioners donate soups, canned goods, boxed cereals and other items that are easy to prepare and we distribute all of the items on the last Saturday from 11 a.m. – noon,” said Beal.
Beal added the reason the church members decided on this date is because “people on assistance usually are running out of funds and waiting for the next check to come.”
In addition to the foodstuffs that will be available at the next gathering on Oct. 26, Beal expects that a table of clothing, socks, gloves, hats and small toiletries including toothbrushes and toothpaste will be available if someone is in need of any of these items.
Beal said as the cold temperatures settle into the region in the coming weeks he also expects to have blankets available in the 4’ x 2’ x 2’ tote.
“If it is really cold we like to have blankets available in the tote too,” said Beal, adding that he also welcomes donations from area residents if someone has a blanket in good condition. Area residents with donations may also contact Beal at (413) 485-8459 to arrange a time to drop off items at the church.
Lemberg is hopeful that her sock drive, which she expects to continue into November at the dance studio, will bring an awareness to the needs of others in the city.
“I’m trying to collect as many socks as I can before the end of the month to help homeless people,” said Lemberg, noting that socks can also be dropped off at the church on Oct. 26 from 11 – 12. “I want people to know they matter too.”