Sarah Markey Jumps ‘Feet First’ Into Charity Work

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Sarah Markey Jumps ‘Feet First’ Into Charity Work

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Sophomore Sarah Markey is practicing what she preaches as a member of the school’s Community Service Club. She  recently created her own nonprofit organization called “Feet First” that collects and donates socks to people in need.

The charity has held sock drives in Easthampton and Northampton, collecting more than 770 pairs of socks. They collect new or lightly used socks varying in sizes and color, and distribute them across Western Mass.

According to “Feet First,” their mission is to “provide clean, warm socks to as many people as possible.”

The charity works with local soup kitchens and survival centers, and directly distributes socks to those who need them the most.

Sarah stressed the importance of wearing socks in the winter and summer. “People who don’t have adequate socks are prone to painful blisters and frostbite, sometimes resulting in serious injuries or illnesses,” she said.

“We strive to promote personal health by protecting feet from harsh New England weather and long days of non-stop strain on the sole,” she added.

Sarah has always been an active member of the Community Service Club, and was inspired to create the organization when she volunteered at a local soup kitchen the summer before her freshmen year.

She told The Willistonian, “The director [at the soup kitchen] mentioned to me that socks are one of the items her clients request most. After doing some research realized I could actually make an immediate difference in people’s lives.”

Sarah didn’t just have a great idea; she navigated the complex landscape small business-owners must face in collecting monetary donations.

She explained, “I realized after doing some research I needed a 501c3 tax form to be able to accept money.”

According to 501c3.org, “Section 501c3 is the portion of the US Internal Revenue Code that allows for federal tax exemption of nonprofit organizations, specifically those that are considered public charities, private foundations or private operating foundations.”

“It was kind of disappointing because getting a 501c3 is such a long process,” she explained. “I’m working on it now, but it could be a while before ‘Feet First’ can legally accept money.”

Other than getting the proper tax forms, she had to streamline her idea and find local resources to support the cause. “I had to spend some time doing all the behind the scenes stuff and coordinating,” Sarah said.

Sarah chose to have people donate socks specifically because it is not a piece of clothing that people often donate. “I think people often take socks for granted, and I thought through ‘Feet First’ could raise some awareness.”

Socks make a huge impact on health because they prevents “frostbites, blisters, and infections.” Sarah continued, “People are less likely to get hired if they don’t have socks to wear to the interview.”

Sarah has been running the charity by herself, but she credits the supportive community she had to allow her to do this.

She said, “My parents and Mrs. Garrity have been great to bounce ideas off of, and the drives couldn’t have happened without communication and help from the leadership at the Northampton Library, Easthampton Library, and Hatfield Elementary School.”

The local Girl Scouts in Easthampton have also helped out, and the Emily Williston Library in Easthampton  has a permanent donation box.

Sarah said that she is proud of her hard work and dedication, and the impact her idea could have. I just wanted to be able to improve some people’s lives and I think I have.”

Rachel Goodman, Co-Leader of the Community Service Club, praised Sarah’s effort in being able to start her own charity. “I think it’s so cool and it is something that I always wanted to do but never did,” she said. “And I think it’s super impressive that she started her own charity.”

She credits Sarah for being nice, friendly, and going out of her way to make people feel included. Rachel feels Sarah’s example will inspire others. “A lot of people want to do something good, but they don’t think its possible with the amount of work and sports.”

She continued, “Seeing that she can do it, it will inspire people that are already motivated [to start their own charity.]”

Penn Cancro ’20, another co-leader of the community service club, is excited to see a Williston community member take an initiative to start a charity and make a difference in the Pioneer Valley community.

Penn admires Sarah’s work ethic. “I think Sarah Markey is really passionate about her cause and has put in the work needed for her charity to be successful and impact lives, such as getting collection bins all over the area and having a well functioning website,” he said.

To add onto her work ethic, Penn also acknowledged her passion for helping others. He described her as enthusiastic and motivated and “ready to share her voice and speak up when she wants.”

He continued, “She is not afraid to inform people about her charity and is always ready to dive into a conversation about why she started ‘Feet First’ and what she hopes to achieve.”