Project Believe students collect socks

Socktober events included a sock hop.

Students at Morton Middle School are helping make Tammie Rafferty’s dream for other kids come true.

So are a lot of other people.

Thanks to the Morton Youth Service Association, 705 pair of new socks were added to the donations for this year’s Project Believe.

The Tipp City-based nonprofit, started nine years ago by Rafferty, provides gifts to more than 200 local youth orphaned by mental, emotional and behavioral challenges.

The Morton Middle School group, formed by current eighth-graders Elaina Burley and Salma Albezreh, held a school-wide sock drive, Socktober, during October. Events included a sock hop with admission of a pair of new socks. The students learned of Project Believe through the Vandalia Optimist Club and its president Tami Daniel.

“We knew this was a great organization to donate socks, and we had a great time collecting socks,” said Megan Reinhart, club adviser and a school guidance counselor.

Rafferty said drives such as those coordinated by the Vandalia students are important to Project Believe. “One girl gets an idea, gets her friends involved and we have hundreds of socks … . I love to see those things happen,” she said.

Nine years ago, Rafferty was a young woman whose 14-year-old adopted daughter, Mary, had spent time around Christmas in the special College Hill unit at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

“While she was in there, I realized I didn’t see a lot of parents coming and going. I was told most other kids were wards of the state and couldn’t be placed in foster homes,” she said.

When she took Mary home for Christmas Eve, the thought of 10 children left behind at the hospital was unacceptable.

In response, Rafferty and her mother created small gift bags with a variety of items for each child. The next year, bags again were prepared because Rafferty said she could not forget about the children.

Soon, she was looking for volunteers to help wrap gifts as both the number of children and number of facilities grew. Wrap parties initially held at her home now are held at Broadway Elementary School in Tipp City. This year’s party is Dec. 8 beginning at 6 p.m.

Young people ages 7-18 in hospitals and youth homes (Clear Creek Farm near Sidney and The Marsh Foundation in Wapakoneta among them) are recipients of Project Believe gifts.

The youth receive a teddy bear, underwear, pajamas, socks and other items. “We don’t go overboard. It is kind of the things your mother gives you,” Rafferty said.

The program now includes a back to school backpack program and a Valentine’s Day program.

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