Photo Credit: Kim Koluch, Considering Lilies Photography
Photo Credit: Kim Koluch, Considering Lilies Photography

The holidays tend to bring out the best in people. It’s this time of year you find smiling volunteers collecting donations on street corners of nearly every city in America. Their charitable spirit allows those less fortunate to celebrate and share in the holiday cheer.

However, this year, this charitable spirit will mean even more. According to a survey conducted by Information Resources Inc., the unemployment rate hit a 26-year high of 9.7 percent in August 2009. This dramatic increase is likely to cause a rise in people not being able to afford gifts for loved ones or even provide a warm holiday meal. Their extraordinary need will require an extraordinary response. And it’s easy to help. There are many ways to transform even the smallest gesture into a gift with a large impact.

Take the story of Hannah at Hannah’s Socks, a charitable organization focused on providing socks and other clothing necessities to the less fortunate. The organization began with one simple act of kindness on the part of then 4-year-old Hannah Turner. One chilly Ohio afternoon, while helping her mother Doris serve dinner at a local homeless shelter, Hannah spotted a man in line with worn shoes and no socks on underneath. Hannah was concerned.

“Mommy, won’t his feet be cold?”

Her mother tried to reassure her: “His shoes will keep his toes warm.” She didn’t know how they could help with all staff focused on the meal and she didn’t want her daughter carrying this burden.

Hannah — too smart, too big of heart — was unconvinced. She told her mother she would give the man her own tiny pair of socks to wear. That next day, Doris took Hannah to purchase and distribute socks to local shelters. In all, they collected and donated over 100 pairs to charities in their neighborhood. From there, Hannah’s Socks was born. In the five short years since Hannah’s inspiration, Hannah’s Socks, with support from friends and family, has collected more than 100,000 pairs of socks for donation to underprivileged children’s programs and homeless and domestic violence shelters.

This holiday season, Hannah plans to gather more socks for the needy than ever before through the Hannah’s Socks’ Holiday Sock Drive sponsored by The Clorox Company, which has the goal of providing 10,000 pairs of socks this holiday season.

Even more incredible than Hannah’s outstanding contribution are the lessons she teaches us: Every act of charity, both big and small, makes a difference; and that anyone (whether you’re 4- or 84-years-old) can spread joy and holiday cheer.

For more information and to find out how to donate, visit Hannah’s Socks at

Making a difference at home

Looking to gift some of your holiday cheer to a good charity or foundation serving the LGBT community the Carolinas? The organizations below collect private donations and redistribute them to non-profit organizations in their area. Check them out or visit our online QGuide to learn about other LGBT non-profits:

Adam Foundation, Winston-Salem, N.C.,

Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Fund,

Crape Myrtle Festival, Raleigh, N.C.,

Guilford Green Foundation, Greensboro, N.C.,