Last October we featured World Changer, Mary Reczek. She’s a little girl in Wheaton, Illinois who set a goal to collect 800 socks for SOCKTOBER. But she received 1370(!), and with plenty of October left to go, she upped her goal to 2000(!).
Last year Mary received 2635 pairs of socks for Chicago’s homeless!
After that, Mary, and her brothers, Charlie, and Sam, went with World Changer Warrior Gayle Bloink several times into the city to feed, clothe, and pray with the homeless there. The socks lasted almost an entire year.
Because they had so many socks generously donated last year, they were able to always have socks with them when they brought food on Saturdays. The socks were almost more important than the food! So many homeless friends have come to hope for socks each week. It is difficult to turn them away. Mary hated when she would run out on any given week.
So for Mary’s birthday this year she would like to collect **3000 pairs of socks** for Chicago’s homeless by 10/31/16. (Here is a link to send socks asap: mary’s sock drive.)
Here’s the full story:
Who is Mary?
Mary is 8 years old. She has two older brothers, Charlie and Sam, a cat, and a bearded dragon. She loves people, is brave (had two open heart surgeries as a baby), and has a tender heart for suffering. She’s naturally outgoing and has a smile always at the ready.
What does she like to do?
Mary and her brothers go regularly to Chicago to feed and pray with the homeless. They go more often in the winter because the need seems greater in the bitter cold of the windy city. ***Now Mary is collecting 3000 pairs of socks to personally distribute in the next year.***
How did she get this idea?
Our family has long had a heart for the homeless. When our oldest two were little (Mary is the youngest) we helped with PADS (a ministry that coordinates local churches providing nightly shelter to the homeless). We would bring food, and when dropping that off, we would help set up the sleeping mats and blankets. We love PADS because it is something you can do with any aged child. Young children (and parents wearing babies) can help assemble lunches, decorate the brown paper bags, set up the sleeping mats and help serve food.
A few of years ago, a friend from church (Gayle) invited our oldest to go with her downtown to feed, and pray with, Chicago’s homeless. This is a a grassroots effort. They just walk around the Loop seeking need. Mary begged to go, and finally on Christmas Eve 2013 she was able! She loved it and goes as often as possible ever since. She sees a lot of “regulars” so knows some of them more personally.
Why did she choose Socks?
Our friend put out a plea asking for 100 pairs of socks for her homeless friends. When Mary saw that, she wanted to help. We thought we would ask a few friends to contribute, and people did! When the request for the first hundred pairs was quickly met, Mary changed it to 200, and then 800 then 1000, then 2000. This year she’s going for 3000! We’ve found that lots of people are happy to help. Most people who have donated socks have said they are happy to help in this small way. Many notes have said, “If Mary is willing to walk around and distribute, I am happy to donate the socks!”
Why does she want to do this?
Mary knows how cold her feet get when she is walking around the city – and she has warm socks and waterproof boots. She also has a safe car with heat blasting and a house to come home to with a cozy bed to snuggle in. She has seen them in the winter and knows they are freezing. Socks are a big deal because if your feet are wet and cold, the rest of your body is, too.
It’s not hard for Mary to be a World Changer because she isn’t thinking about facts and numbers. She is remembering real people that she actually talks to. She is thinking about their cold, wet feet. She loves them because she knows them.
How do the homeless people in Chicago get the socks?
Mary and her friends are writing notes to go in each pair of socks. They aren’t just going to drive by and toss them out the window. They are going to hand out the socks and look everyone in the eye. They are going to connect.
Please help Mary get 3000 pairs of socks for the homeless in Chicago by 10/31/16!
Right now she has 2189 pairs. 811 pairs to go!
Here is the amazon link to send socks directly to Mary.
I will keep you posted on Mary’s final count. It’s going to be great!
Lord, thank you for Mary! You are shaping a tender, strong, beautiful, inspiring World Changer in this 8 year old girl. She is inspiring and teaching us. Please soften our hearts to see and hear the people you put in our paths. Thank you for your mercy and grace. Amen.
If you are reading this post after 10/31/16 and want to love homeless people in your area, Mary and her mom, Gabi, have these ideas:
- Volunteer at PADS or other shelters (google “homeless shelter” and your town/county name to get started)
- Carry snacks or $5 gift cards with when walking in heavily populated areas.
- Carry socks in your car in your car to share.
- If you have any old purses, put in some tissue, chapstick, hand wipes, feminine hygiene, and perhaps some beauty items. Keep them in your car to share.
- We’ve made these backpack kits: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6fkyf9UGAE
- If you’re crafty, we’ve made three of these sleeping pads over the last 2 years. They are highly sought after, and cost nothing but time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQtcpPBJc70
- Here is a link to a Chicago church that makes the mat as a group – join them, or start your own group: http://www.unitedinfaith.org/newlifeforoldbags.html
- If you don’t have anything to give, or are just caught unawares, you can always stop and talk with a homeless person. The vast, overwhelming majority are NOT criminals or dangerous. Ask them how they are doing. Hear their story. If you are able, take them someplace warm for a cup of coffee.
Do you know a World Changer? We’d love to learn from them! Send me a message in the comments below, or at email@example.com
To read about Mary’s adventures last October you can read Mary1 and Mary 2.
To learn from other World Changers, you can read about the Seversons, Bergers, Farrells, Evans, Powells, and Greta.
To learn how the Family Compassion Focus got started, read Our Story.
To get ideas for how to start your own Family Compassion Focus, read Getting Started. (Remember, it’s never too late and there are a thousand ways to do it.)
You are loved.
©Aimee Fritz & Family Compassion Focus, 2016.