12-year-old girl leads sock donation for needy veterans

Bruce McManus joins neighbors Rebekah, Rick, Kensi and Kelley Bleich with Down the Road Thrift owner Jerry Vaughan to celebrate a successful sock drive.

 

Jerry Vaughan, owner of Down the Road Thrift, has been committed to supporting veterans in need in Brevard County since 2018. He receives countless donations of clothing and basic necessities every week and distributes them.

So when 12-year-old Rebekah Bleich approached Vaughan about starting a service project to help Down the Road’s mission, he suggested she host a sock drive.

What Vaughan wasn’t expecting was the overwhelming number of socks Rebekah brought in a couple of months later. Rebekah amassed a total of 750 pairs of new socks between March

and May.

“Socks are very important to vets. You gotta keep clean socks on your feet or else you’ve got problems,” said Vaughan, who is a Navy veteran. “We’ve done sock drives before, but nothing to this extent.”

Through partnerships with Volunteers of America and the Department of Veterans Affairs, Down the Road Thrift helps furnish about six homes a week for veterans getting back on their feet. The nonprofit organization also supplies veterans with socks, linens and towels when a resident is moving into their new home.

Rebekah promoted her sock drive by taping flyers around her Rockledge neighborhood. Rebekah’s mom, Kelley Bleich, also took to social media to tell people about the project. Neighbors flocked to a bin outside the Bleich residence to drop off new socks.

“We weren’t expecting that many donations at all. It was nice to see how many people pitched in to help,” Rebekah said.

The sock drive is the first of many service projects Rebekah plans to take on as part of a charity organization she started. Be Barry Giving is named after her grandfather who passed away in December 2020.

“There are a lot of veterans in my family. Veterans have fought to protect us, and it’s only right to give back to them,” Rebekah said.

The charity also received a large monetary donation that was used to purchase 28 sets of new bedsheets for veterans.

Rebekah is now focusing on getting donations of bug spray and sunscreen from her neighbors to deliver to Down the Road Thrift.

“Her parents raised her right. There’s no stopping her once she’s got a good idea,” Vaughan said about Rebekah. “If more kids were to do something like this, the world would be a better place.”

Down the Road Thrift continues to accept socks donations, as well as bed linens, blankets and towels. Donations can be dropped off at 238 Peachtree St., Unit 101, Cocoa.