With the holiday season approaching, thoughts turn to giving to others and trying to make others’ lives a little easier.
For one Louisa County Middle School student, giving to others is second nature.
Olivia Vibbert, 13, has been collecting and donating socks to the homeless for over a year, culminating in a donation of 400 pairs of socks to the Louisa County Public Schools Socktober drive last month.
“I have a lot of socks and it felt good to know that a lot of people can have new socks in this county,” she said.
Vibbert began collecting socks just over a year ago for an organization she founded called “Cold Feet Warm Hearts.” She collects socks that people donate and distributes them to organizations that can get them to the homeless.
It began as a project for the Family Career and Community Leaders of America’s STAR event competition, but has grown to something bigger.
Vibbert says she was inspired by her own experiences with homelessness. For a period of seven weeks last year, as her family moved back to the east coast from Utah, Olivia, her parents and two younger siblings, were left without a place to live.
“People were so nice to us during that time that we wanted to give back to them,” she said. “I like giving back to the community.”
Vibbert and her family have always tried to give back as a way to honor her younger sister, Delaney, who passed away in 2012. Losing their home, however, put things in a new perspective for all of them.
“She realized, and I think we all did, that there’s more than just paying for someone’s food in the McDonald’s line or buying coffee for someone,” Olivia’s mother, Krista, said. “She realized that there was more that she could do. She puts her heart into it. It’s her passion.”
The organization has been collecting socks since October 2016. Olivia started by setting a goal of 1,000 pairs of socks and sharing her story online. It was shared over and over and she soon met and surpassed her goal.
The most striking part for Vibbert wasn’t the quick response, but how far her story reached.
“We got socks from the United Kingdom, Australia, Norway, Ireland and Egypt,” she said. “It was crazy.”
Vibbert’s current goal is to donate 10,000 pairs of socks and she is well on her way to that goal with over 7,000 pairs donated.
Each person who receives a donation from Vibbert gets two pairs of new socks, along with a card which has the organization’s motto: ‘Changing the world, two feet at a time.’
“It feels good to know that lots of people have new socks,” Vibbert said.
To learn more about Cold Feet Warm Hearts, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/liviscoldfeetwarmhearts/.