NAHANT — A retired teacher’s 20-year tradition to eliminate cold feet was carried on by two dozen Girl Scouts Tuesday afternoon.
For two decades, Johnson Elementary School teacher Marsha White organized an in-school sock drive for the homeless, donating thousands of pairs of socks to My Brother’s Table. She retired in June, but her students wanted to keep her yearly drive going.
“Mrs. White talked about helping people,” said third grader Madison Marsh. “When people don’t have socks, their feet can get frostbite and their toes can fall off.”
White, a Lynn resident, was handing out hats and gloves two decades ago when a man from a local shelter told her many people would rather have a new pair of socks to keep their feet warm.
“Whenever I told my students about that and they realized not everyone had more than one pair of socks, their eyes just looked up at me like ‘oh my goodness,'” said White. “It became a good project, and I always did it right before Valentine’s Day because I love to help others.”
During a visit with her former students earlier in the school year, she encouraged them to continue giving back. Girl Scout Troops 68002 and 69002 collected socks for My Brother’s Table, the largest soup kitchen on the North Shore, and added a toiletry drive to the mix.
More than 100 kits filled with shampoo, conditioner, floss, wipes, soap, razors, Q-tips, toothbrushes, and other necessities were donated to The Bridge House, a family shelter in Lynn run by the Lynn Shelter Association and funded by the state Department of Housing and Community Development.
The socks were distributed to visitors of My Brother’s Table the same day, when the free medical clinic at the facility opened later Tuesday night.
Lunch and dinner are served to more than 300 people, five days per week, and two meals are served over the weekend, said Maria Coccimiglio, development and events manager.
“These socks are important, especially if someone is sleeping out on the street and their feet are wet,” she said. “They need that extra pair of warm socks to put on.”
Fifth grader Heather Doucette said she liked visiting the soup kitchen because she liked to see that people who are hungry get to have a meal.
“I didn’t know how many people needed to come here,” said Marsh, who admitted she didn’t understand the importance of the sock drive before Tuesday. “Now I think it’s a really good project.”