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Group plans 'Socktoberfest' to help homeless stay warm

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By Julie Muhlstein
Herald Columnist
Debbie Paget sees plenty of need.
She has worked 22 years at the Everett Public Library. Most visitors come through the doors in search of books and information. Others seek warmth and shelter.
The library technician is part of a Sunday evening worship group at Trinity Lutheran College in downtown Everett. That group -- headed by Sean Bendickson, who teaches music at the college -- hopes to reach out to the college's neighbors, including the homeless.
They considered a food drive. Instead, they decided to simply ask homeless people what would help most.
"And so I did," Paget said. Through the years, she has spoken with people who regularly use the library as shelter.
"I do see that population a lot," Paget said. When the weather turns cold, more homeless people spend long hours in the library. She worries where some will go when the library closes for up to two weeks of construction starting Oct. 24.
Paget approached several homeless people, explaining that the group hoped to fill a real need. "We don't want to preach. We want to do something meaningful," she said.
Socks. That was the one answer she said she heard most: "We desperately need socks."
The worship group meets at 6 p.m. Sundays at the downtown college. Out of those meetings grew an idea for what to do with socks now being collected at Trinity Lutheran College, several Lutheran churches in Everett, and at Cafe Zippy across from the college.
At 6 p.m. Oct. 30, Trinity Lutheran College will host "Socktoberfest," an event in the college commons with music, desserts and socks for anyone in need.
"We don't want to just throw money or food or even socks at a problem," Trinity Lutheran College Pastor Erik Samuelson said Friday. "We'll have a festival. If people have socks, bring them. If they need socks, get them. We'll all eat together."
Socktoberfest will include a Bavarian-style band, an open mic for guests to join in singing, and homemade desserts, Paget said.
It was Bendickson who pushed for more than a charity drive. He sees a disconnect between people on the street and the worship community. Socktoberfest, he said, could be "a safe way to kind of realize, 'I made friends with a guy who lives on the streets.' "
Paget believes many of us are just a paycheck or two from sharing the plight of the homeless.
Invitations will be handed out, and Paget said the area's homeless are hearing about Socktoberfest "through the grapevine."
And through that grapevine, she has heard gratitude. "Several expressed that nobody treats them with dignity," Paget said.
Another good deed
In Monroe, Mary Peterson Clark offers another example of how one person can make a meaningful gift.
Clark, 75, is a walker. "I walk every day, anywhere from 2 to 5 miles," she said Friday.
In 2003, she decided what to do with every coin she finds while out walking. She saves that money with the goal of sending a donation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The Memphis hospital, founded by entertainer Danny Thomas, serves children with cancer and other serious diseases.
Years ago, Clark's 17-year-old son had a terrible motorcycle accident. "A priest gave me the St. Jude prayer," she said. Her son survived, and Clark now aims to donate to the hospital in gratitude.
In her first three years of picking up coins, Clark said she collected $5.71. Last week she counted the rest. Those coins totaled $9.29. Together, it's an even $15 -- but that's not all. "Years ago I found a $20 bill in a casino in Las Vegas," she said Friday. "I need to add that."
Clark said she once found 60 shiny pennies in a puddle. "People don't bother to pick up pennies," she said.
All these years, she has thrown coins into a drawer. It's time now, she said, to write and send the $35 check.
"If something happened to me, this money wouldn't go where I intended," she said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460;
Socks needed
New socks for homeless adults are being collected at several Everett locations: Cafe Zippy, 2811 Wetmore Ave.; Trinity Lutheran College, 2802 Wetmore Ave.; Trinity Lutheran Church, 2324 Lombard Ave.; and Central Lutheran Church, 2702 Rockefeller Ave.
Socks will be distributed at "Socktoberfest," an event with music and refreshments, at 6 p.m. Oct. 30 in the Trinity Lutheran College commons, Wetmore Avenue and California Street in downtown Everett.
All are welcome.
Story tags » EverettChurchesHomelessness

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