ELIZABETHTOWN — Homelessness often results in the constant challenge to do without the basics, and one of those is socks.
The Bladen Journal and Anna Grace Allen, 14 — the current Miss Bladenboro Outstanding Teen — have joined forces in an effort to help promote Allen’s platform for the upcoming Miss North Carolina Outstanding Teen Pageant titled “Sock It to ‘Em.”
Allen decided on the effort to collect socks for the homeless and needy as her family was headed to church one Sunday.
“I saw these homeless men off Exit 49 (along Interstate 95) in their tents when we would drive by and wondered … where do they sleep? Do they have covers? How do they keep warm?” she said. “And I wondered if I could do something.”
Allen, who volunteers at area homeless shelters and soup kitchens, was told that socks were the most-needed items for the homeless.
So since about the first of the year, Allen has been making the rounds of Bladen County government and civic groups talking about her platform to collect socks. That caught the attention of the Bladen Journal staff.
“We already do a blanket and sleeping bag collection for the homeless and needy in the fall, and we thought helping Allen with collecting socks in the spring would fit perfectly,” said W. Curt Vincent, general manager/editor of the Bladen Journal. “The public has been so generous with our fall collection, and I have a feeling it will be in the spring as well.”
Allen’s efforts have caught the attention of many in the community.
“She’s really putting in a lot of service with God’s ‘least of these,’” said Sunday Allen, who has been escorting the young Outstanding Teen around the county. “She’s not even 15 years old yet and to have a heart for service at her young age is a truly remarkable thing.”
Sunday Allen said the youngster’s heart for service fits well with the Outstanding Teen Pageant, being one of four cornerstones of program: style, service, scholarship and success.
According to Anna Grace Allen, about 25 percent of the homeless in the Fayetteville area are under the age of 18, and about 11 percent of homeless there are veterans.
“I just think those of us who can should try to help,” she said. “Most of us take socks for granted, but for the homeless they can make a big difference.”
How you can help
Throughout the month of April, the Bladen Journal will accept donations of new socks at its office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. All sizes of socks are need, from children’s to adults.
The Bladen Journal will have a large cardboard box for all socks to be put in.
At the end of the month, all of the socks will be given to Anna Grace, who will give them to the Salvation Army for the area’s homeless and needy.
Anyone with questions about the “Sock It to ‘Em” sock drive can call the Bladen Journal at 910-862-4163.
Also, Anna Grace is currently looking for monetary sponsorships for her journey to the Miss North Carolina Outstanding Teen Pageant in June. Anyone interested in contributing should call Teresa Allen at 910-977-1760.