Warming hands, feet and hearts at Christmas

MONROE – Kelly Boyce is reaching out to the community for the second year in a row to ensure local residents in need stay a little warmer this winter.

(Above) Union Academy sophomore Kelly Boyce collected more than 1,300 pairs of socks last year.

(Above) Union Academy sophomore Kelly Boyce collected more than 1,300 pairs of socks last year.

The 15-year-old Union Academy sophomore is organizing the second annual Xtremities Xtreme Sock and Glove Drive to collect socks and gloves. She’ll take the items to several local agencies to be distributed to people in need throughout Union County. The drive takes place through Dec. 8, and people can drop off donations at the Monroe Aquatics and Fitness Center, 2325 Hanover Drive in Monroe.

Kelly launched the drive last year after she noticed a need within the community because of a struggling economy.

“I realized that many people couldn’t afford the bare necessities like socks and gloves,” she said. “I decided one day, ‘Hey, how about (I) create a new drive – a unique drive, like socks and gloves.’ It’s not something you see every day.”

Kelly and her mom, Fairy Boyce, began contacting local churches and businesses, asking for donations and help spreading the word. They initially had no idea what type of response they’d receive, but seven different churches had pitched in to help by the end of the drive.

The goal for the first Xtremities Xtreme drive was to collect about 200 pairs of gloves and 500 pairs of socks, Kelly said. So when the totals came in at more than 1,300 pairs of socks and 400 pairs of gloves, she and her mom were pleasantly surprised.

“It’s really grown into much more than what we ever thought,” Fairy Boyce said. “I think it’s the time of year; everybody kind of opens their heart during the holiday.”

Kelly said the most challenging part of organizing last year’s drive was the fact that it was her first time taking charge of such a large outreach project.

“The whole organizing (part) was hard; it was definitely a new thing for me because I’d never done a charity (project) like that,” she said, adding her favorite aspects of the drive were picking up the donations and taking them to the agencies, as well as meeting new people. “It was fun to see where all the socks and gloves were going.”

This year’s Xtremities Xtreme drive will benefit the same charities as last year: the Union County Christmas Bureau, Operation Reach Out, the Union County Community Shelter, Turning Point Domestic Violence Shelter and a local hospice center. And Kelly is considering reaching out to other organizations, as well.

“Each (agency) branches out to particular people in need,” she said, adding the charities combined cover people of all ages. “I can make a difference in a bunch of people’s lives.”

Kelly has already received support from six area churches and a sponsorship from Walmart, and two classes at Union Academy have begun collecting items for the drive, as well. She plans to continue encouraging community members to donate over the next couple of weeks and hopes the Xtremities Xtreme drive inspires people to reach out and help those less fortunate.

“I hope (they realize) that giving back is a good thing, especially at Christmas,” she said.

The Xtremities Xtreme drive officially runs through Dec. 8, and Kelly plans to deliver the donations to the agencies during the second week in December, though she added the drive might be extended. People can bring men’s, women’s and children’s socks and gloves of all sizes and colors and drop them off at Monroe Aquatics. Check the drive’s Facebook page, “Xtremities Xtreme Sock and Glove Drive,” for updates.

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