Young philanthropist warms old feet – and hearts
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Saturday, Feb. 01, 2014

Young philanthropist warms old feet – and hearts

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/29/16/32/NaFGT.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - KAREN SCIOSCIA
    Bailey Hill and his “Nana,” Beatrice Hill.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/29/16/32/cdoUm.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - COURTESY OF BEATRICE HILL
    Bailey Hill, left, and Sam Blewitt prior to delivering the socks and stuffed animals.
  • Learn more:

    For information on Socks for Seniors, email Beatrice Hill at hippygram@yahoo.com.

Bailey Hill is a very mature 9-year-old.

He passionately wants to help people, especially the elderly – and he has taken action.

“Let me tell you how it all started,” Hill said recently. “When I was in the second grade (fall 2012), I thought about older people who might not have a warm coat for winter, and wanted to help them.

“I went to my ‘Nana’ (grandmother Beatrice Hill) and said I wanted to buy coats for people in nursing homes, but she told me that was too expensive for me to do.”

So Bailey went to his bedroom and thought about his dilemma. Soon he had a new plan.

“Everyone needs socks, Nana, and they’re cheaper than coats. I want to buy new socks for people who might need them,” he said.

Hill’s parents, Michael and Wendy Hill, supported the project; Nana helped him devise a plan.

“I told Bailey that if he raised or collected money for the socks, I would help him with the packaging and delivery,” Beatrice Hill said. “He agreed, and ‘Socks for Seniors’ was born.”

Bailey made a sign and went to craft shows with his grandmother, where she had a booth displaying her handmade jewelry and paintings. Bailey would ask for donations.

He also accompanied Nana to bingo games at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Monroe, where he would speak to the group about his project.

Bailey would start by thanking everyone for coming, as if they were there to hear him talk.

He collected enough money to buy 387 pair of socks.

“I learned a lot the first time,” Bailey said. “For one thing, I learned that someone in a nursing home might have only one leg, or no feet at all. We bought little stuffed animals to give as presents to a resident who couldn’t use the socks.”

Bailey and his grandmother had visited several stores to see where they could get the best price to buy the socks (one type for men, another for women, and diabetic socks for both genders). Dollar Tree locations in Monroe and Indian Trail turned out to be their best bet.

They wrapped the socks for Christmas and called local nursing homes to ask for permission to bring the socks and get the number of residents.

“We’d leave some extra, too, in case someone new came in before Christmas. We didn’t want anyone left out,” Beatrice Hill said. “My personal donation is the cost of wrapping and helping Bailey deliver the socks.”

Buoyed by his success and the gratitude of the recipients, Bailey set his sights higher for 2013. Sam and Rachael Blewitt, 9 and 7 respectively, joined him.

The three friends went about collecting money for months. They got donations for Socks for Seniors whenever and wherever they could, including church groups and the Boy Scouts.

“I always carry a little bag for donations and ask people if they can help,” Bailey said.

By early December, they had enough money for 866 pairs of socks and several stuffed animals.

With their large decorated box full of warm socks and stuffed animals, Bailey, Sam and Beatrice Hill delivered their gifts to local nursing homes.

Bailey and Sam would go into a resident’s room to deliver the socks and would sit and visit with each person when appropriate.

“Sometimes they would hold our hands and talk,” Bailey said. “It made me feel so good and warm inside knowing how happy we made them.

“I hope we can buy 1,000 pair of socks next year. I can speak to a school or church group about Socks for Seniors and would love it if other kids would like to help.”

Bailey enjoys reading Harry Potter books, playing Mine Craft on the computer, building with Legos and playing golf with his father. “My dad works at Stonebridge Golf Course, and he’s pretty good,” Bailey said.

The family, including Beatrice Hill, lives in Wesley Chapel.

Karen Scioscia is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Karen? Email her at kapril12@hotmail.com.

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