his fictitious story was inspired by a real little girl. Hannah Turner was serving dinner at a homeless shelter on Thanksgiving Day 2004, when she saw a man with tattered shoes and no socks. With great concern, Hannah turned to her mother and said, "Mommy, he can have my socks." Since then, the family created a non-profit organization, Hannah's Socks, which collects and distributes clothing necessities to the less fortunate. This year, Hannah will spend Valentine's Day handing out socks to the homeless at the library in Toledo, Ohio. Visit www.hannahssocks.org to learn more about the organization and to read Hannah's story.
"Mom!" shouted four-year-old Hannah, impatiently jumping up and down. "Look at that old guy's socks. They have so many holes that his toes are playing peek-a-boo."
Hannah's mother turned from the counter in the mission home where she was dishing up bowls of soup.
"Can I give him my socks, so his feet won't be cold?"
Hannah's mother smiled but shook her head. "No, honey, your feet are so much smaller than his that your socks would never fit him."
Hannah looked sad as they left the mission home. She waved goodbye to the man and he waved back.
"It's Valentine's Day next week, let's stop and buy some red and white crepe paper to cover a shoe box for your valentines," Hannah's mother said, hoping the thoughts of valentines would cheer up her daughter.
That evening, after the dishes were done and things were tidy, Mother got out the scissors and glue.
Hannah sat down and started to open the packages of red and white paper. She still looked sad.
"What's the matter, honey? Are you still thinking about the man at the mission home with holes in his stockings?"
"Well, let's get going on this box for you to take to preschool, so your friends can put their valentines in it."
Hannah handed the white crepe paper to Mother, and Mother cut just enough paper to cover the outside of the box. Before long, it had been glued on.
"Now," Mother said, "let's draw and cut out some hearts from the red paper and glue them on the box. They'll make it look so pretty."
Hannah looked puzzled. "At preschool, our teacher showed us a picture of a person's heart. It didn't look a bit like a valentine heart."
"Oh, you're such a smart little girl. Real human hearts don't look like valentine hearts, but the human heart feels love and the valentine heart is a symbol of love."
Hannah wasn't sure what all of that meant, but using her school scissors, she cut out a few lop-sided hearts.
"Now, cut out a large heart, Hannah, to put on the lid of the box, and we'll glue it in the center. Then we'll make a slit in the middle of the heart, so the children can slide their valentines into your box."
After the large heart was glued to the top, Mother cut a slit in the middle of the heart and through the box's lid. A tear popped out of Hannah's eye as she watched.
"What's wrong, honey?"
"The paper heart has been cut in two, and my real heart feels like it's been cut in pieces."
"Oh," Mother said, pulling Hannah close to her. "Are you feeling heartbroken because you are still thinking of the poor man?"
Hannah nodded, as tears slid down her cheeks and dropped onto her box.
"Tomorrow, we'll go and buy a lot of stockings for the men at the mission, and I'll call your teacher and see if she'll ask if anyone would like to bring a pair of socks instead of a valentine for your box."
Hannah grinned. "Now my heart feels like its back together. Let's make the opening bigger on the lid so the socks can go into the box. It's more fun to have socks than valentines," Hannah said, as she twirled about the room.