Are your feet warm?
When you get chilly in the middle of the night, do you have socks to wear underneath your covers?
Something as simple as socks is a resource many people with money take for granted. But James Moreland, the Founder of Love You Neighbor Ministries, knows what just one pair of socks means to those who struggle to have anything.
So, he gives them five pairs of socks.
Love Your Neighbor Ministries, a sock ministry, was birthed from Moreland’s relationship with God through the Christian Faith in 2005.
After reading the Bible, which instructed him to serve those in need, Moreland collect 300 pairs of gloves to give to the homeless in Champaign-Urbana.
“One person said, ‘I appreciate the gloves, but we need socks.’
“So I said, ‘Okay, Lord. I think I can do the socks,” Moreland said.
“The following year God blessed me with 600 bundles of 5 pairs of socks.”
Moreland, alongside volunteers, distributed the first set of socks to Champaign and Chicago in 2013. And for the last five years, on the back of donations, Moreland has added a city to distribute socks each year.
“I never get tired,” said. “God always increases our sock intake.”
Currently, his team, which includes five or six monthly volunteers from Life Community Church, Cornerstone Church and Stratford Church, travel to seven cities throughout the winter and spring months to distribute socks to the needy and homeless.
Over the course of one day and many miles, the volunteers canvas the cities, looking for someone who might need a new pair of socks. This year, 300 homeless or needy in St. Louis, Indianapolis, Peoria, Champaign-Urbana, St. Louis, Decatur and Springfield received a bundle of five socks.
“We hand them out individually,” he said. “Not to a shelter. We hand them out individually because shelters will give them one pair of socks, and they need more than one pair.
“This year God blessed us with 10008 pairs of socks,” Moreland said.
He hopes by 2019 he will be able to expand one additional city, reaching either Danville or Rockford, too.
Moreland said that because those with fewer means often walk from place to place, their socks wear out quickly.
“Their socks get holes in them,” he said. “In the winter time they need good thick socks. So we give them 5 pairs of socks for 5 days worth.”
Moreland also learned just last year that persons with diabetes cannot wear socks with color, so this year he purchased more white socks than black and grey.
The clothing item that so many people take for granted has a lasting impact on those in need.
“My friend gave socks to this man, and he started crying because he said Jesus loved him plus a bundle of socks,” Moreland said. “He was very appreciative.”
“People can afford it; we take it for granted,” he continued. “But something small like that, they appreciate it.”
Even getting five pairs of socks is a shock to some people living on the street.
“We walked up to a man, and he began to take one pair out of the bag. And I asked, ‘What are you doing?’
“He said, ‘I’m taking my pair.’
“I said, ‘The whole bundle is yours.’
“He said, ‘It is?’ and he thanked me. He said, ‘I needed some socks.’
“They always thank us and look for us next year.”
Over five years, Moreland has built relationships with some of the sock recipients.
Because there are so many socks to hand out in one day, Moreland said that volunteers don’t spend too much time with any one individual, but they always offer prayer, if the recipient wants prayer.
But in Indianapolis, the Love Your Neighbor Ministry has connected with an organization that feeds the homeless in the park. The two groups meet up each year to meet a need for the homeless.
Moreland believes that meeting was also a gift from God.
The group of volunteers left the park, walked all the way to Lucas Oil Stadium and back without seeing many people who needed help.
Upon arriving back at the park, they saw a huge line. They stopped to ask what the line was for.
“He said, ‘We are here to feed the homeless and needy,” Moreland recalls. “And I said, ‘We are here with socks for the needy.’”
Through being someone the homeless can trust, Moreland believes their hearts are being opened to hope.
All of the money donated to Love Your Neighbor Ministries go directly towards the purchase of socks. Volunteers pay for gas, their food, money that they hand out to the needy or groceries they buy for the needy.
A man once asked Moreland to purchase some bread, bologna and cheese for him.
Moreland left to buy the groceries. As a fellow volunteer talked to the man, the man was convinced that Moreland would not come back.
“So many people say that they will come back and they don’t come back,” Moreland said. “I wasn’t going to leave him.”
In the same way, Moreland said that the Love Your Neighbor Ministry changes the volunteers.
“It opens their eyes,” he said. “And now they have no excuse about not helping.”