BURKESVILLE, Ky. (WBKO) -- For this week's Hughes and Coleman Hometown Hero, we met up with a couple in Burkesville, who's simple idea to help others has turned into a way to give back to thousands.
"Socks for the Sole started in 2014," says Leslie Conner, who started up the project with her husband, Eric.
"Since then, we have donated over 5,500 pairs of socks to the Nashville Rescue Mission," she adds.
In January, they dropped off nearly four thousand pairs and they've already collected a few hundred more -- with help from community members and their church -- to be donated next January.
"I've always had a heart for the homeless and compassion for them, as many people do, and you just don't know how you can help them," says Leslie.
After spending a winter living in a camper just outside of Burkesville while remodeling their home, Leslie and Eric got the idea for Socks for the Sole.
Leslie says, "Even though we could've gone to stay with family, we were stubborn and chose to stay in the camper. That camper was heated with two small electric heaters and it was very cold."
But she knew for some, that winter was even colder.
"You know, how cold must it be for those who are sleeping on the streets, unsheltered?"
So began the research, learning the best way to help others.
"We knew that we wanted to collect socks because we learned that's the number one requested item by the rescue missions and it's also among the least donated," she explains.
Leslie adds, "Not only are we trying to provide warmth and a more comfortable winter, but all of our socks also have a message on them that reads that you are important and you are loved because we really want them to know that they are important and that they are being thought of."
Their impact hasn't stopped with socks and helping the homeless. Others have since been inspired to find their own ways to pitch in. Leslie's cousin, Dannielle, has started "Blankets of Blessings".
"It's given me a sense of purpose and it's given me something to strive and look forward to because I can't wait to take the blankets down there and meet some of the people the blankets are going to be going to," says Dannielle.
"I always joke and say what started as something completely selfless has kind of turned into something selfish because every time I get a pair of socks or a package of socks its like I received a prize," laughs Leslie.
Leslie says, "No one is immune to homelessness. So many Americans, half Americans, are one paycheck away from homelessness. If you take one paycheck and you lose your job, get hurt, go through a divorce, so many people would find themselves without a home. We're lucky in a small town like Burkesville, we have so much family and friends to take us in, but not everyone's that lucky."
For their impact on the homeless community and inspiration to others, we honors Leslie and Eric Conner as this week's Hughes and Coleman Hometown Heroes.
To donate socks and help out with Socks for the Sole, Leslie and Eric accept donations year-round. They accept socks for adults and children. You can drop off donations at the Cumberland County Hospital, the Cumberland County Judge Executive's Office at the courthouse, or at Conner Auto Center in Tompkinsville. You can also call Leslie at (270) 427-1311 for her to come pick up your donations.
To donate a blanket to Blankets of Blessings, you can contact Dannielle at (931) 337-6483.