Getting the basics

Student group collects underwear, socks, diapers for needy
Wednesday, November 24, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:32 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 4, 2008

If underwear and socks are on children’s wish lists this year, it’s because some of them — namely, students at Midway Heights Elementary School — want to give them away.

The Keeper of the Keys, an after-school character-building program for fifth-graders at Midway, has elected to join the “socks and undies for kids” drive sponsored by Caroline & Company and benefiting children who stay at the Rainbow House, an emergency shelter and regional child-advocacy center that serves newborns to 18-year-olds.

The 30-member group at Midway chose the activity as part of its “caring” unit. The students select a character trait every month that embodies or adds to one of their five core principles: respect, responsibility, being positive, doing one’s best and being safe. Members of the group have already begun collecting packs of underwear, diapers and socks around school and will continue through Dec. 22.

To gain support for the drive, Keeper of the Keys children colored fliers and sent them to parents last week. Each morning, a representative will visit the classrooms to collect the day’s donations.

During a season when many people give to those in need, basic items like socks and underwear, which aren’t viable secondhand items, often go overlooked. Members of Caroline & Company, a local staffing company, have participated in service activities for many years and collected 3,446 pairs of socks last year for Rainbow House.

Ashley Smethers, house coordinator for Rainbow House, said the shelter is always in need of diapers and pull-ups and that many of the children who come in only have the clothes on their backs. Caroline & Company is hoping to fill that need or at least help reduce it so staff at the Rainbow House can spend less money on diapers and more on educational materials.

“Lots of kids have never had new items, so even something as simple as new underwear or new socks is very much appreciated,” said Barbara Carman, the coordinator of the drive for Caroline and Company.

Last year, the children at Rainbow House danced around in their new Christmas-themed socks. “The kids said they had fancy feet,” Carman said. “Things that many children would take for granted, these children embrace. They think it’s unbelievable someone would love them that much.”

The shelter functions on support from the United Way and donations from the community. It houses an average of seven children each day but can accommodate 14 at once and serve more than 300 children a year.

Many other area schools and businesses are participating in the drive, including Southwest Playschool. Director and head teacher Sharen Garrett said it does a service project every year. “We try to teach children at Christmas that the best gift is giving to someone else,” she said.

Caroline & Company will post donation results Monday, Dec. 6 and Dec. 13, so people who wish to donate will know what is needed most. Gifts are accepted during business hours till Dec. 22, and Carman said they would pick up donations from individuals or offices that don’t have time to make it to their office at 311 S. Providence Road.

Carman said she was confident the community would respond. “When you sincerely ask people for a need and when you show mid-Missouri how they can help, they respond,” Carman said.

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