A virtual fundraiser in HFMA’s Central Ohio Chapter turned into more than a one-off event for a not-for-profit organization recently.
The Chapter created a committee for community outreach, deemed HFMA Gives Back, in 2019 and was looking for a service project when Chapter board member and past president (2009-2010) Ken Stoll proposed the idea of raising money to purchase socks for Columbus Relief, an organization that serves the homeless population in South Columbus. Through a virtual tailgate event, the Chapter raised $3,720 for the organization.
Envisioning what he described to Chapter leaders as a “mountain of socks,” Stoll, vice president of strategic accounts at RevSpring, began reaching out to contacts at retailers in an effort to get a good bulk price. That search led him to Centric Brands, a New York-based lifestyle brand collective, that not only offered to help the Chapter provide socks to Columbus Relief but committed to making regular donations to the organization in perpetuity. With that commitment, Stoll’s “mountain” became a “river” with a constant flow of new socks, a much-needed item for people who are homeless. The Chapter then donated the full $3,720 they’d raised to the organization to use however it was most helpful.
Kevin Ramsey, Columbus Relief’s outreach director, called the donation “quite the miracle.”
“A lot of people don’t think about socks when it comes to the homeless, but it’s such a big need,” Ramsey said.
People who are homeless walk everywhere they go, including through rain and snow, and clean, dry socks are hard to come by. When that basic need is met, Ramsey said, a person has mental space to face other challenges.
“I’ve seen great conversations start after you give someone a pair of socks,” he said.
Likewise, with the knowledge that he’ll have a steady flow of socks coming in, Ramsey can turn his attention to other items his organization needs.
The “river” hasn’t stopped with the Chapter’s efforts. Chapter President-elect Christine Aucreman’s son Justin, a high school junior, was inspired to work with Columbus Relief as part of his work with his school’s service club, which will be sponsoring a backpack drive to benefit the organization.
Preston Belding, past president of the Chapter, said the project is characteristic of Stoll, who championed it.
“Ken is that friend who always checks on you, listens and offers to help in any way he can,” Belding said. “Ken cares deeply about humanity and is always giving of himself to help others. We are so grateful to have him as part of our Chapter and our lives.”