Beauty and inspiration is all around us.

Do you remember your eighth birthday? Or being eight years old? From experience as a mother, I can recall more about being eight years old, than I remember details of my own eighth year.  When eight years old, my kids were in 2nd or 3rd grade, starting to have the occasional sleepover, beginning to read chapter books and they were all wizards at electronic gadgets and games. 

Meet Heidi. She is a bit of all of these things, but in addition she is definitely aware of the world around her and her own sense of self. The most current and common gifts for eight year olds are geared towards the creative, active, curious or game loving side of childhood. Finding a really great gift for a special young lady that align with her could be really hard, couldn’t it? Heidi is an observant and compassionate girl that has a heart much bigger than her eight year old body. After years of observing pan handlers, assumed homeless and less fortunate people scattered around her hometown. She wanted to take action. She wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. She was about to turn eight years old and was about to celebrate with a gathering. She held her birthday party in a normal typical fashion with friends, family, games, cake, balloons- only her requested gifts were not for her. At her request, she asked her parents if she could hold a sock drive to benefit those experiencing homelessness. A profound request. A puzzling request questioned by some of the other parents and guests of the party. Heidi collected over 75 pairs of socks to donate to The Joy Of Sox.

The real impact is not in the number 75, the impact she made is in the lives of 75 people. People that because of Heidi felt comfort, warmth, dignity and hope at a time when they needed it most. Some of Heidi’s socks ended up going to a North Dakota family of three, whose house had burned down. Within days of receiving Heidi’s sock drive, her gifts found their way onto the feet of a family who suddenly had become homeless.  Some socks went to a group of unaccompanied minors who had become rescued from human trafficking. Young Heidi was able to provide love to people at a time that they were homeless, alone and needing a simple comfort.  Heidi’s remaining socks went to a few unsheltered people that were outside and especially cold one night. An essential extra layer of clothing can be a difference of hypothermia, frostbite and death during a North Dakota winter. It is people like Heidi that remind me that beauty and inspiration is all around us if we choose see it.  My hope is that Heidi’s compassion and selfless gifts will inspire each of you to use your own opportunities to serve others. Thank you, for touching mine and hearts of 75 others, Heidi.

Erin Bertel
Mrs. North Dakota International 2015

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