Retired educators ?sock' it to clothing need

By Greg Gelpi

Retired educators are "socking" it to one shortage of those in need.

The Clayton County Retired Educators' Association conducted the "Sock it to me" sock drive to collect donations for the county's Department of Family and Children Services.

"They really do appreciate anything you can do for them," retired educator Gene Miller said. "I thought it would be a good project for those who are homeless or temporarily homeless."

Miller said he hadn't really thought about the needs of the department until Brenda Wahlig, the president of the association, mentioned it and the association began collecting items to donate.

Wahlig said the organization collects toys every Christmas and collected school supplies last month to give to DFCS. Last year, the retired educators gathered luggage and suitcases to help children moving out of their homes and into foster care. The sock and undergarment drive was just another way to help those in need.

Pat Robertson, another retired educator, donated a dozen pairs of boys' socks and a dozen pairs of girls' socks.

"I guess going back to my childhood there was a period when my dad was out of work," Robertson said. "If it wasn't for my mom's family providing us with hand-me-downs, it would have been hard."

She said she just feels "fortunate" to be able to help others as she was helped when she was young.

"The needs are varied," said Chuck Fischer, deputy director of the Clayton County Department of Family and Children Services. "The needs are extensive."

When children are removed from homes and placed in foster care, they are given $150 to purchase clothes, Fischer said, adding that it "doesn't go very far." Some children come toting all of their belongings in plastic garbage bags.

"That really tugged at everybody's heart strings," he said. "They looked like bag people."

Clayton County DFCS has about 350 to 400 children in foster care, a number that remains constant, Fischer said.

"Any time community groups can come together it's very helpful," Fischer said. "We really do have an outpouring from the community."

The department is always collecting items, clothes, gift cards and monetary donations to pass along to foster children, the elderly and others in need, he said. To contribute to DFCS, call (770) 473-2315 or for Pick an Elf, the department's holiday collection program, call (770) 473-2312.

The Clayton County Retired Educators' Association is an association of about 200 members. The organization meets on the third Tuesday of each month at Jonesboro United Methodist Church.