- Associated Press - Saturday, December 19, 2015

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) - Tanya Blackshear’s classroom wasn’t all that inspired to participate in a sock drive.

As seventh-graders, they had more interest in their own needs and wants than in giving to others. But it took a surprisingly small amount of coaxing to get her early adolescents in the giving, holiday spirit.

“I just broke it down for them,” Blackshear said.

In its first year at the school, the Coastal Resources Commission challenged the school’s homerooms to participate in what they hope will now be an annual sock drive. Donated footwear will be distributed to senior citizens in the community.

Blackshear’s students, though initially hesitant, ended up being the winning classroom for the drive, donating some 177 pairs of socks to the campaign.

“I just told my students, ‘Think about your own grandparents,’” Blackshear said. “‘Think about your grandmother, your grandfather. Wouldn’t you want them to be happy and comfortable this season?’ After that, the sock donations just started rolling in.”

The school brought in 602 pairs of socks, which were provided on Dec. 16 to the Coastal Resources Commission and members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Brunswick service sorority. They will be distributed to those in need, said Dionne Lovett, director of Aging Services for the CRC, and Tori Windsor Foisy, case management supervisor for the CRC.

Homebound seniors have a distinct set of needs that can often be invisible, Lovett said. It is a population that is less visible and can easily be overlooked.

“When you get older, you get colder,” Lovett said. “Our seniors deserve the extra hand and the extra effort to help keep them healthy.”

Campaigns like the sock drive are key to helping the older population stay in the public’s forefront. Such events also help build partnerships between organizations.

“This is a time of year to take down that red tape that can often surround these sort of issues,” Lovett said. “Now, these organizations can work year-round to help our community and build that bridge of support between those in need and those willing to help.”

School council president and eighth-grader Jacob Harris was happy to be a part of that bridge, he said. Working with his peers to help stir the spirit of giving was a task he was ready to take on. After all, he said, he has grandparents and he would never want them to be without.

“This is just a little something we can do to give back,” Jacob said. “I was and my fellow classmates were all happy to help out. It was actually pretty fun getting the spirit moving.”

Pride didn’t even begin to describe what Blackshear felt about her students and school population during the holiday sock drive, said Jane Macon Principal Michelle Seals.

Having been raised by older adults, Seals has a soft spot for seniors. Seeing her students and teachers step up to the plate and offer a gift as simple as socks to fill a great need was a truly touching moment, she said.

“This just makes my heart bleed,” Seals said. “I have been involved with the elderly for years and they do have great and different needs than other populations. This drive helps our kids know that there are those out there that may need extra help. It helps them open up and think about others. I am so very proud of them all.”

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Information from: The Brunswick News, http://www.thebrunswicknews.com

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