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COLUMN: Thank you for the warm feet and warm feelings

Thanksgiving is a time in America for slowing down, if even for just a day, to give thanks for what we have. Most of us enjoy the day with our families and take the opportunity to express appreciation for the love and support we give and receive through the year.

Thanksgiving can also be a time of fun and joy. Like Christmas, it can be a time of sharing with someone else in hope of making his or her Thanksgiving brighter. Sharing our blessings with those not as blessed can bring fun and joy to our lives.

Last week in this space I talked about a conversation with World War II vet Harold Storey. Harold remembers well the pain of cold feet among soldiers fighting in Germany. He challenged me to help raise awareness of the homeless in Rome and to facilitate an opportunity for people to bring new socks for the cold winter months. We made my office at Rome News-Tribune available as a drop and, as you probably imagined, our expectations were exceeded. The response was almost immediate.

As I walked into First Baptist Rome for Sunday school and Worship, lots of fellow members told me they were bringing socks. Socks were arriving at the newspaper office Monday morning and were placed in a box by my door. By Wednesday afternoon donors had covered a sofa with more than 150 pairs of socks. Socks were by my door Friday morning and more are promised.

Some socks included notes honoring Harold and in memory of others. They were all given with concern for the plight of folks we may not know but pass every day. They were given with compassion and love. The givers didn’t give for recognition. In fact I don’t know and did not see everyone who brought socks. Some of my friends who I knew would give, did. And some just quietly placed them on the counter and walked away. 

On Wednesday afternoon Barbara, our son Tilman, his wife Sarah, and I, corralled Harold and met Bill Davies at the Shelter to present the socks to Shelter Director Devon Smyth.  She was ecstatic to have the socks. Her first comment was that she had been crying most of the morning as someone had brought 10 fully cooked turkeys for the Shelter Thanksgiving dinner. The timing of that surprise donation could not have been better as all the shelter's 16 beds were filled. This donation meant the men could enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner as a family.

I must say “thank you” to the readers of my column, members of my church, family and friends, and all who helped me honor Harold’s challenge. It was fun watching the socks come in and brought joy to all of us at the newspaper. Together we have helped those we may not know but we know need our help. We have provided more support than either of us might have done alone.

There are other shelters, food pantries, church clothes closets, Community Kitchen, Boys and Girls Clubs, and more that need our help. I hope that as you learn of the need, you might find a way to help.

If the Rome News-Tribune can help, please call me and we will be happy to assist.

We don’t help the less fortunate for our glory. That glory goes to God and the blessings to the men of the shelter and those who give.

Otis Raybon is the publisher of the Rome News-Tribune.