Socks, Socks, and More Socks

A couple of months ago I gave my Lions club the idea to collect socks for homeless people. I never in a million years imagined I would get the response that happened. We service the needy people of our community through a local township food pantry. I was surprised to learn that in a community as upscale as Frankfort, that there are 350 souls registered with them. My original proposal was to give each client of the food pantry a new pair of socks. The club board of directors gave me a green light to go ahead.

My first step was to solicit volunteers from the membership to join in on the fun. Fifteen Lions signed up for the project. We met virtually using ZOOM, and I explained the goal, one pair of new socks to every client of the food pantry. In my training as a manager during my working years it was highly recommended to use teams to do a job. Teams work smarter and their collective brainpower allows them to make better decisions.

Our first effort was to discuss how we would deal with buying socks, the vendors, getting quotes and discounts, etc. We switched the subject to how we would physically separate pre-packaged bundles of socks to donate. That discussion led to a new discussion of the goal. Why not save the effort of separating by giving each person a six-pack of new socks? All along, it was my intention to have the Lions purchase the socks and my emphasis was on selling a proposal to the board for how much money to ask for. That’s when the brainstorming went into high gear and in a matter of minutes we shifted from the Lions Club buying socks to getting the public to donate socks. The team loved this idea and in a matter of a few minutes had formulated a plan to get a sock collection underway.

One team member worked as a substitute teacher for the local school district. He thought this would make an exciting project for the school kids and would also teach a lesson. The remainder of us suggested various businesses to ask to be collection points. Another volunteered to spread the word on Facebook, and our website, another raised her hand to design a flyer. The wheels were turning, no, I mean they were spinning and smoking.

We met in another week, again virtually, and reviewed progress and filling in gaps. By the end of the first week, we emptied the collection boxes and sorted 670 pairs of socks. While we were spreading the news to the community, the Middle School Student Council challenged their classmates to a contest. The room that collects the most socks by the end of February wins a lunch time pizza party. This school turned on the other two schools in the District and they also began collections. Meanwhile, the second school district within our boundaries caught sock fever, and the Junior High began collecting. Not to be outdone the Key Club from the local high school also jumped in.

My part in this was to provide collection boxes for the community and the schools, eighty-five to be exact. I spun my wheels running between Home Depot and my shop to paste signs on the boxes designating them as Sock Drop points. We gave the drive a name; Care. Share. Give a Pair. This catchy phrase spread community wide via the local digital news-site, and on our local community TV.

As I write this we are a couple of days from the official end of the drive. At last count we had collected 5180 pairs of socks and we expect another two thousand to come in from the remaining schools and community boxes. Who would have thought? A simple idea that caught the imagination of a lot of people in the town. All of them pent up with energy from the COVID lockdown. All of them recognizing that their neighbors are in need and they are still in better shape than those in need.

At this moment the kids who won the contest are lunching on pizza supplied by another club member who owns the most popular pizza joint in town. In the meantime, the Lions are now facing a new problem, i.e where to donate the thousands of surplus socks. I love problems like that.

Where the is a need there is a Lion.

Sock Sort One

What a day this has been! The sun is shining making us feel warm even though the temperature is at 26 degrees Fahrenheit. The snow from the roofs is melting and forming giant icicles. Any of these pointed ice spears would kill anyone it fell on. Today was planned to count and sort socks. My Lions Club is conducting a community wide sock collection for the purpose of giving those in need some fresh new socks. Our idea is that if your feet are warm, the rest of you will be warm too. For whatever reason, this project is resonating with the public. Probably because it is simple and COVID-19 has affected so many of our neighbors. The Frankfort Lions Club goal is to provide every man, woman, and child registered with our local food pantry with a six pack of socks.

Ten super excited Lions gathered for this event at our local Community Center. We were masked and spread apart as wide as was possible and within thirty minutes we counted 672 pairs of socks, tied them into bundles of six, and bagged them for transport to the Food Pantry on Monday morning. Since our food pantry is sheltered in the Township building and the Township is government they don’t work weekends so hold your hunger for Monday thru Friday.

Our count was six hundred and seventy-two pairs of socks in 112 bundles of six, or 36.7% of our goal. Next week Lions will energize the purchasing component of the project and spend sponsor donated funds to buy what the public didn’t give. By the end of February, our public school partners will end their drives and provide us with a mountain of socks to spread around the community through the shelters.

All in all, this has been a successful project. A highlight will be our Lions produced video to publicize the event. What else but a sock puppet show to do the job. I promise to post our video once it becomes final.

Part two of this day had me delivering two pieces of art-work to Frankfort Arts Association Member Exhibition at Tall Grass Arts Association in Park Forest, IL. The show is “Emerging Perspectives,” and it is my debut as an artist. I feel that all the hours I have spent on making Intarsia pieces deserves some recognition, or at least some exposure. The next step will be to sell something, but I have a problem with that, i.e. I can’t bear the idea of letting my babies go. Maybe that is why we are called “starving artists.”

Wanted:Gently Used Coats

There is no question that the current drop in temperatures has me thinking about a severe winter. Part of my downsizing effort had me looking through my closets for stuff to eliminate. There hanging by its lonesome was my winter coat. It is a down jacket that has served me well and is lacking a zipper pull. I fixed it by threading an oversized paper clip through the eye. It works fine, it keeps me warm, but I’m thinking I could use a nicer coat. Then I wondered how many people there are out there like me who are looking to eliminate a coat from the wardrobe? Probably a few more. Then it occurred to me that I am a Lion. Collecting and distributing used winter coats would make a great service project for the club.

I’ll make a presentation this evening to my board of directors and see how it flies. As part of my research I went to the internet and searched for coat collections. WOW! Lots of people are doing it, and that signals a genuine need. That is, there must be a bunch of homeless or needy people who can use some warmth.

So what do I do when we get a bunch of coats collected and now we have to do something with them. The internet offers multiple organizations that will accept gently used coats. I wasn’t surprised to see that The Burlington Coat Factory was amongst them. Most likely our club will donate them to a local organization called Together We Cope, or the Salvation Army, or the neighboring VFW that is collecting coats for veterans.

We can also accept cash donations towards the purchase of coats for anyone we find in need. Since we service up to twenty-eight families with holiday food they might also be needing some warm coats.

The trick is to let the public know what we are doing and to ask them to help with donations. Spreading the word to friends and neighbors via email or on Facebook should be easy enough even for guys like me.

Probably the toughest thing to do is to get a very large box (gaylord) to place coats into.

A Little Bit Tipsy

What do you do when you are a little bit tipsy and you want to post for your blog? You write whatever comes to mind of course. That is where I am at this moment. In a few seconds the tipsy will wear off and I’ll begin to make some sense. Tipsy is a condition one feels immediately after a glass of wine with a pizza. The feeling can only be described as light headed, happy, whimsical. I will continue after returning from a two mile walk and a break with another glass of wine, that is if I get lucky with my drinking partner.

Well I’m unhappy to report that the drinking partner fizzed out and the walk took a direction away from wine and turned into three miles, not two. Returning home exhausted I watched my favorite series Heartland for a couple hours and then turned to Tin Star. I finished the first season of Tin Star and was totally surprised at how it ended. The writer of this program solves all problems with alcohol and murder.

I retired for the evening and slept hard waking only to relieve the pain of an over full bladder. I am so sick of eggs for breakfast that this morning I had some left over chili. The carbs in the chili have left me very sleepy. All I want to do is to rest my head on the keyboard and sleep.

This evening I meet with my Lions club; half of us will be in person and the other half will be with us on ZOOM. Our speaker for the night is also on ZOOM. That should make things very interesting. Think of twenty five people spaced apart for social distancing all straining to see a postage stamp size image on a computer screen to hear a speaker. If this works, I’ll proclaim it a miracle.

I anticipated the problem last week and have made arrangements with the Park District to borrow their fifty-inch TV for our zoom presentation. One of our members is an IT man and he has promised to hook the TV into the laptop and to connect our microphone and speaker. I’m hoping this will set a new trend for zoom-in-person meetings.

My job tonight is to recruit Lions for three service projects: the first being a paint party to coat Fort Frankfort with a clear coat of sealant. The second is to recruit Lions to plant a few trees in a newly rehabbed park. Lastly, I must form a committee to plan and run an eightieth anniversary celebration/fund raiser. The Frankfort Lions celebrate eighty-years of continuous service to the community in February, 2021. What better way to celebrate than by having fun while raising money to keep serving. The whole plan will be dependent upon us meeting State of Illinois guidelines for COVID-19. I’m thinking that by then Illinois or at least Will County will be totally free to do as it pleases.

I mentioned Fort Frankfort above. Let me explain what it is. Twenty years ago a group of citizens formed an organization to build a playground for the kids. This playground is huge and unlike any other in neighboring communities. It was funded and built by the hands of Frankfort residents. Fort Frankfort resides in the center of a very large tract of land which has since become a mecca of outdoor recreation with lighted ball fields, soccer fields, a splash park, a dog park, tennis ball courts, pickle ball courts, volley ball courts, basketball courts, frisbee golf, walking paths and more. All because a group residents wanted to give the kids a safe and adventurous place to play. The Park District developed a showcase facility around Fort Frankfort.

Positive Imaging

What to talk about today? The sky is cloudy and rain is imminent. There are still too many weeds to pull in the garden, but I’m not into it. My attitude is dreadfully morose. That condition requires me to work overtime to eliminate. How? By prayer, and huge doses of mindless work of some kind, like writing a post for my blog.

My life which was filled with the activity of caring for my late wife, and has become empty. The virus has cooled my second passion after Peggy, the Lions Club, and I am very down about the members not showing any interest in revving up the juices to serve the community. Many of our members are my age and some older, so they are afraid of their shadow and are hunkered down. I still think I act and feel twenty years younger than the average aged 62 year old in our club. Just yesterday, I attended an online Zoom webinar on virtual fund raising. I was amazed by the activity presented by a newly formed club during the pandemic. They chartered as a virtual club, meaning they don’t meet in person. All of their communication and activities are done using eMail, Messaging, Zoom, Facebook, Youtube, and other social media platforms. They collect money using apps like Go Fund Me and PayPal. Their projects, what ever they are, require fund raising. I have often thought that lots of activities that require fund raising for each one is a smarter way to keep club members engaged and active. The one giant fund raiser of the year approach which our club evolved into requires a huge effort during the fund raising process which wears everyone out for further activity. In the meantime members leave because there is not a lot of activity for them to participate in to bring service to the town, and which gives them a feeling of “giving back”.

Another habit or culture that our aged club has evolved into is to write checks to help causes within the town, this is a good thing. What is bad about it is that the causes are determined by a very limited number of people who decide behind closed doors how much should be donated, and who will get it. The list of charities is then presented to the regular membership for approval. That vote for approval is the only action a person gets to make him feel he is giving back to the community. On the opposite side of this process is the scheme which has members bringing project ideas to the services committee for approval and then they organize into a team to raise funds to bring the idea to fruition. This method gets more members directly involved with the implementation of the service. It all sounds good on paper. The downside is that our culture at this point works against such a system. The one big project for the year system seems to shade out any new activity. It’s kind of like trying to present an idea to Congress who will discuss, debate, present to committee, and maybe vote to bring it into law. Nothing happens fast. In our world today the key words are fast, action, team, solution, next!

Above I stated that I think younger than the average person in the club even though I am in the upper quartile of senior members. I must learn how to present ideas to the hipsters because my ideas don’t gather any interest for action by the young crowd. For them these things all sound like a dirty four letter word spelled W-O-R-K. If they can’t push a button or get it done on a keyboard it isn’t for them to do. That is what frustrates the hell out of me. I can get more done using those tools even though I am a dinosaur pushing the keys and thinking outside the box. All I can do is to continue to push ideas into their brains and hope these thoughts break through the blood-brain-barrier. In the mean time I will remain despondent about my ability to lead this club forward.

Now, I have to take a long walk to build a pile of endorphins, and follow it up with a mediative trance during which I will envision myself making a ground breaking positive presentation that will cause members to line up with ideas and a desire to serve.

Tracey J Boothe Publishing Blog

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