Local teacher, club helps nursing home residents stay warm

December 21, 2020




BIG STONE GAP — Each year, Union Middle and High School chorus teacher, Kelly Sorah, takes her students Christmas caroling at the local nursing homes with the hopes of bringing joy to all. COVID-19 has put a damper on a lot of school activities this year, and the chorus has not been spared.

“When I found out we weren’t singing, I wanted to figure out how else we could contribute,” Sorah said in a phone interview. “We are used to being busy with concerts and community outreach, so I was feeling empty. I wanted to come up with something we could all do to reach our community.”

As luck would have it, one of Sorah’s former students’ parents contacted her with the potential of doing a blanket drive for the local nursing homes. The blanket concept led Sorah to the idea of socks.

Sorah contacted Heritage Hall of Big Stone Gap to ask them if a sock drive would help them out. The staff was overjoyed at the idea.

Sorah also decided to put together gift baskets for the employees to make their day a little bit brighter during the holiday season. Each employee and resident were also provided with a handmade card made by the chorus students.

Sorah and her students started the sock drive after Thanksgiving break and the response was immediate. They began receiving so much support that they decided to also include residents of Heritage Hall of Wise and the fourth floor residents of Mountain View Regional Hospital.

On Friday, Dec. 18, Sorah made the delivery to each nursing home facility. Originally, they intended to give each resident a pair of socks. But, thanks to the generosity of the community, the team received monetary and sock donations amounting to 433 pairs. This provides each resident with a new pair of socks as well as a spare.

Sorah recognized many who contributed to the cause including Union Middle School.

“Mr. Clendenin (principal) gave his staff the opportunity to pay $10 and wear jeans from after Thanksgiving until Christmas break and all of that went towards the sock drive,” Sorah said.

This provided extra money to go toward gift baskets and socks, but also much needed toiletries at the nursing homes.

“They said they could really use things like shampoo, conditioner and soaps. So, we were able to also donate around 90 toiletry items,” Sorah continued.

The UVA Wise Circle K International club also donated 40 pairs of socks to the cause. An anonymous donor also contributed an additional $200.

Sorah wanted to thank all donations, no matter the amount, to help her and her students help keep the Christmas spirit alive for local nursing home residents.