FEATURE — Just as a small, seemingly insignificant stone has the potential to create ripples across a vast body of water, one small act of kindness can have a ripple effect, impacting others in positive ways and leaving the world a better place.
Sometimes the most successful human endeavors often begin as small gestures of genuine kindness and evolve into global operations of love that change lives, touch hearts, and save souls.
Colleen and Kelly Kendall are two small stones who are creating waves of positive change that are affecting thousands of lives.
It began when their simple act of kindness touched the life of one 20-year-old homeless man. As the couple walked among those sleeping under tarps and trees in Pioneer Park in St. George, they happened upon a young man –Nate — who would change not only their lives but the lives of many others.
As Colleen Kendall knelt down next to Nate, she touched his arm and asked softly, “Where is your mother?” He began to cry and told her that his mother was no longer in his life and that his father was in prison. Through tears, he shared his story.
He once had a good job, an apartment, a truck, a girlfriend and a baby girl whom he adored, but because of getting involved with drugs, he had lost everything.
“Even though I’m here in the park homeless, I am a good person,” he said.
They asked him to help them know what the real needs were in the homeless community and shelters by asking around and getting back to them. A few days later, Nate sent a powerful one-word message: “Socks.”
Then two other messages arrived: “Socks are Gold” and “We would rather have socks than food.”
The Kendalls felt impressed to begin collecting socks immediately to distribute to those in need. That simple message of “Socks” evolved into a nonprofit organization: Socks for Souls.
“As you can imagine, the homeless don’t have many options for doing laundry,” Colleen Kendall said, “so a pair of socks is worn for as long as possible before they become too wet or soiled or are literally worn off their feet. Most of the homeless wear donated shoes that don’t fit quite right, cause sores, and create bacteria that grow, especially in the summer and on hot days. Most of us put on clean socks daily and can’t imagine what it would be like to wear a pair of socks for a week, let alone a month.”
“We each can do our part to help the less fortunate,” she added.
Author Edward Hale stated: “We certainly can’t change the world all at once, but we can do something that ripples around the world. I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, in cold enough conditions, frostbite can occur in 30 minutes or less. Locally, Socks for Souls is currently distributing socks at Switchpoint Community Resource Center, the DOVE Center, the Doctors’ Volunteer Clinic, and similar agencies from Logan to Las Vegas.
“Having the basic necessities brings personal dignity to those who are struggling and having challenges,” Kendall said. “Many times, we pass by homeless people and they become invisible. They are also judged as ‘beggars’ who simply should go get a job. If we only knew the real story behind their unkempt appearance, we would think twice about judging them, and we would be inspired to donate socks for their feet.”
Sometimes it only takes someone caring enough to give a hand up to change a life forever.
“We are not suggesting a ‘hand out’ but a ‘hand up’ with the basics of life we often take for granted,” Kelly Kendall said. “Giving service is one of the best ways to forget our own struggles and know that we are making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.”
Those who have received socks are grateful for the “Sock Angels” who have donated socks for the many souls in the Southern Utah community and even to the orphanages in Mexico.
“Each person has within him or her the potential to create ripples of positive change,” explained the Kendalls. “At the end of the day, when those with less than us are having difficulties, sometimes they just need a little hope. And a pair of socks!”
Written by St. George Health and Wellness magazine staff.
This article was first published in St. George Health and Wellness magazine.