- Associated Press - Friday, May 4, 2018

FULTON, Ind. (AP) - A group of local music students are hoping to make a difference, one sock at a time.

The nearly 150 band and choir students in grades seven through 12 at Caston Jr.-Sr. High School performed their spring concert on Wednesday evening without shoes. They partnered with an Upland, Indiana-based sock business that donates pairs of socks to homeless shelters.

In 2015, Sky Footwear began in a Taylor University dorm room. Keaton Hendricks, a senior at Taylor, said he felt an urge to help the homeless in his hometown of Bloomington. He volunteered at a shelter there five years prior and realized the struggles of his neighbors.

Hendricks teamed up with his friend Eric Cellier, who graduated from Taylor last year, to start the business. Through conversations with members and workers in the homeless community, Hendricks said they learned that sock donations are overlooked at shelters.

Many people don’t think twice about donating shirts, jackets and shoes, he said, but people don’t often remember that homeless men and women need new clean socks.



For each sock purchased from Sky Footwear, the business will donate one to a homeless shelter. Hendricks said they’ve given over 10,000 socks to 20-plus shelters across the United States.

James Byrn, band director at Caston, said he and his wife, Michelle Byrn, who’s also the choir director for the corporation, had watched a television news story about Sky Footwear. Both Taylor University graduates, James Byrn said they wanted their students to support the business.

A few years ago, Byrn said some of the high school tuba players would wear “wild colored” socks without shoes while sitting in the back of the band during concerts. That give he and band students an idea to use that joke as a basis to bring awareness to the needs of shelters, he said.

Caston seniors Carrie Smith and Evelynn Byrum recalled how Byrn told the band students to put themselves in the shoes - more like socks - of people who are homeless and haven’t had a pair of clean socks for some time. The students then voted to purchase socks for the concert.

“It’s pretty important that we’re not just looking out for ourselves, but when we buy a pair of socks, then we’re helping someone else,” Evelynn said. “It’s kind of refreshing in a way.”

Students could choose from multiple styles, some picking U.S. themed socks, while others bought colorful and humorous socks with watermelons and pineapples.

“It’s a fun way to help people,” Byrn said.

The socks gifted from Caston students will be delivered in person to The Rescue Mission, a faith-based organization serving the homeless in Fort Wayne, on May 9, Hendricks said, adding that he’s appreciative of Caston’s support of his business’s mission.

“It’s cool for me that you see other people become passionate and do something that you’re really passionate about,” Hendricks said.

Byrn said he hopes through this experience, the school’s music students can be motivated to serve others throughout their lives and help change their communities, no matter the need.

“I just want my kids to be good kids,” he said.

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Source: (Logansport) Pharos-Tribune, https://bit.ly/2JPgd6p

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Information from: Pharos-Tribune, http://www.pharostribune.com

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