CLARKS GREEN — Happiness Hive Learning Academy, housed inside the Clarks Green United Methodist Church building, was abuzz with excitement Dec. 8 as students and their families gathered for a gingerbread house decorating party. Frosting-smeared chins and sticky fingers were plentiful, along with smiles, laughter and expressions of concentration, as youngsters painstakingly placed the small pieces of candy in just the right spot on their creations.
But one little girl’s mind was fixed on more than just the sweets.
Layla Tweed, 5, of Factoryville, was thinking about socks.
Not the red stockings with white fur that hang in front of the fireplace for Santa to fill with candy and toys on Christmas Eve but rather the kind that go on feet to keep them warm — the kind that is one of the least donated but most needed items at local homeless shelters, rescue missions and resource centers.
Last Christmas season, when Layla was 4, she and her mother, Lorie, heard on the radio about a need for socks and started talking about what they could do to help. The pre-school student started a sock collection among family and friends “for a donation for the less fortunate, because their feet are probably cold.”
During that first sock drive, she collected 250 pairs. This year, she set a goal to exceed that number. After collecting 263 pairs of new socks during the pre-school’s gingerbread house party, to which the admission cost was a donation of such, the amount collected so far during this year’s drive has risen to 449 pairs. Layla’s new goal is to reach 500.
When asked what she thought of the full donation box at the party, Layla replied, “They make me feel happy.”
And her happiness makes her mother happy, as well.
“I am so proud of her,” Lorie Tweed said. “I might be partial, but she is so amazing, so caring.”
Lori added she and her daughter couldn’t have accomplished such a feat without the help of family, friends and fellow Happiness Hive families.
When the sock drive is complete, the collected goods will be divided for distribution at Saint Joseph’s Center, the Women’s Resource Center, Friends of the Poor and Seven Loaves Soup Kitchen. The Tweeds also plan to give some to an area family who recently lost all its belongings in a fire.
Community members who wish to donate new pairs of socks can do so via a dropoff box at Fiorillo’s Pizza, 100 Old Lackawanna Trail, Clarks Summit (by Gerrity’s) before Dec. 23.
The family looks forward to making the sock drive an annual Christmas tradition.
“Giving back and paying it forward is such an important part of the holiday season and every day,” Lorie Tweed said. “And we are so thankful that Layla is so kind and has such a big heart to learn that at such a young age.”