(CBS Charlotte) — Throughout North Carolina and the city of Charlotte, you can expect to find a variety of charities and various causes that pull on people’s heart strings.
But, if you look a little closer, you’ll come across several charities that firmly demonstrate their mission, and have a passion and desire to make a difference.
It is those charities that speak the loudest to all of us at CBS Radio, and that is why we continue to highlight the purest community efforts every month.
This month we are shining our Local Charity Spotlight on the HandsNFeet Foundation. We recently had a chance to interview Clay Peddycord, Executive Vice President of HandsNFeet. Peddycord is a North Carolina native, and a graduate of UNC-Charlotte and Winthrop University.
HandsNFeet provides socks, hats, and gloves to people in need.
Q. Can you tell us about the mission statement of HandsNFeet?
A. The HandsNFeet Foundation believes there is no such thing as JUST GIVING a glove or a sock. WE believe the greatest difference our gift can make in a person’s life is the love and respect the simple act signifies. It is the small gesture of human kindness that may be the catalyst the recipient needs to help them break the cycle of homelessness. HandsNFeet Foundation believes our impact is not just felt through the lives we touch, but through the transformation of the donors and the volunteers involved in this act of kindness as we fulfill our shared vision of providing assistance to those in need.
(Related Article: Monthly Charity Spotlight: The Chronic Illness Relief Fund)
Q. What motivated and/or inspired you to start a nonprofit?
A. Several years ago in Charlotte, I used to give money through my car window to people in need. On a cold day after purchasing a couple of pairs of gloves for myself, I gave a guy a pair of gloves instead of money. He would have preferred the money, but the next day in that same area around Statesville Ave., I saw the guy wearing my gloves. I felt good about that. Moving forward I would buy a few pairs of gloves and keep those in my car during the cold months. In the fall of 2011, I shared that concept with Renee Pennington and Mario Flores with the firm I work for, Flores & Associates. We were planning our Christmas giving project for 2011. Instead of a single project we decided to start something that we could grow and something that our employees could easily participate in. Mario and Renee took my gloves idea and added socks. I had to fight back tears when they told me that we were launching HandsNFeet Foundation with a focus on supporting our homeless friends in need with gloves and socks … and that I would be a leader in the foundation. We quickly learned that the homeless need socks — year-round. Therefore, we stay busy year-round.
Q. What types of assistance do you provide to the community and to people in need?
A. Working completely with volunteers with no paid positions, we connect good people to the need that exists in the homeless community for gloves, hats, and socks. We strive to stay true to a simple mission of supplying these core items through agencies serving the homeless such as Crisis Assistance Ministry, the Charlotte Men’s Shelter, Urban Ministry Center, A Child’s Place, Charlotte Rescue Mission and others. Early on we searched and found relationships with groups focused on serving the homeless. We have established relationships with specific Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Volunteers pick-up items from HNF and deliver these to the schools where there are homeless kids in need. We see our role as gathering donations and building a pipeline to the homeless — all supported by volunteers.
Q. Do you accept donation requests directly from people in need?
A. Yes. We are structured to gather donations of items and money. We place donations with agencies ready to distribute to the homeless. We purchase items for distribution with dollars we receive. I try to place HNF in a situation every week where we can offer socks, gloves, and hats directly to those in need. Over a year ago, I was introduced to a weekly Thursday evening meal service where some local volunteers organized as a group known as Serve Charlotte’s Homeless. This group of volunteers provides a dinner to 100-150 of our homeless friends in need. HNF started visiting every Thursday and we bring the gloves and socks.
Q. Have you always had a desire to help people?
A. I think so. Having lost my dad to suicide at the age of 7, my mom and my step-dad brought me up in a happy home filled with hope. My mom still helps people more than she helps herself. She has always been an inspiration for me to look for the good in others and to “share”. Clearly my life could have turned out much differently so I am very thankful that I can help others.
Q. Where do you see the nonprofit in five years?
A. In simple terms … we just want to help our homeless friends while being good stewards of the donations people make to the foundation. So far we have been able to turn $1.00 donated to the foundation into $0.95 of goodness for the homeless. This is important when we hear about so many charities that do quite the opposite. We want to methodically grow the opportunities for volunteers to have an easy access to helping the homeless.
Q. To date, around how many people have you assisted through the charity?
A. We have pushed nearly 40,000 pairs of gloves, socks and hats into the community since starting in late 2011. Some key organizations have helped fuel our actions. At Flores & Associates we have been blessed to do business with some companies that coincidentally manufacture socks. Renfro Corporation in Mount Airy, North Carolina, manufactures socks for many of the brands we all wear every day. Thorlo in Statesville, North Carolina, produces premium foot protection and socks. In 2012, these two groups accounted for roughly 10,000 pairs of socks that we distributed.
Q. What are your favorite volunteer efforts in the community?
A. We have some great Flores & Associates employees giving of their time for the foundation. The volunteers that gather on Thursday evenings on North College Street to serve food to our homeless friends in need are an amazing group of people. I am connected with people needing volunteers for many groups helping the homeless, I can connect you too. Volunteering brings out the best in all of us — find a cause and get busy.
-Nichole Jaworski, CBS Charlotte
Want to get involved? Email Clay at: email@example.com