1. Community News

With something as simple as socks, Plant City ministry brings smiles to those in need

In its first year, the Happy Souls Sock Ministry at First Baptist Church of Durant distributed more than 5,000 pairs of socks to Hillsborough County Elementary School students and others in need. [SARAH WHITMAN | Special to the Times]
Published Oct. 10, 2018

A year ago, members of the First Baptist Church of Durant in Plant City gathered to brainstorm ideas to help the community.

They wanted to do something different. Kevin Wynne, senior pastor at the church, mentioned socks.

In its first year, the resulting Happy Souls Sock Ministry distributed more than 5,000 pairs of socks to Hillsborough County Elementary School students and others in need.

"We are loving on people through a simple act," said organizer Summer Rain, children's teacher at First Baptist. "Some people ask if there is really a need for this ministry and the answer is it depends who you ask. Many people are so grateful for them."

Happy Souls works alongside the Plant City Junior Women's Club, which donates new shoes to students each school year.

Happy Souls provides each participating student with six pairs of fun, colored or youth-themed socks. Any and all socks are welcome as donations, Rain said.

The ministry also passes out socks in bags for the homeless and wherever the group can help.

"My family and I went to Daytona on vacation and there were so many people living on the beaches and the streets," Rain said. "We passed out socks and they were very appreciative."

The money to purchase the socks comes from donations within and outside church walls. On Sunday mornings, children collect change in metal buckets to benefit Happy Souls. The youngest volunteer is 3.

Rain said Happy Souls plans to expand to middle and high schools next year. The group also plans to contribute to backpacks distributed annually by Christian radio station The Joy FM.

"A guidance counselor at one of the schools we give to said a girl told her she was not getting made fun of anymore because she didn't have to wear old socks and her feet didn't smell," Rain said. "We are showing them love and hopefully they will grow up to give love to others."

For more information or to donate, visit or call (813) 737-2556.


United Methodist Church of Sun City Center, 1201 W Del Webb Blvd., will present Tampa jazz artist Stacey Kinights in concert at 7 p.m. Oct. 19. Admission is a $10 donation at the door. Also, the Jack Edison Jazz Band will perform at 7 p.m. Oct. 26. A $10 donation is also requested. For more information on these and other events, visit

Brandon Christian Church, 910 Bryan Road, is seeking vendors for its 11th Annual Craft Bazaar from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 1. Handmade items only. Inside and outside tables available. Contact Betty at or call (813) 404-9393.

Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, 304 Druid Hills Road, Temple Terrace, will host its 18th Annual Oktoberfest 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 27. For more information or to reserve a vendor table, visit or call (813) 988-4025.

New Tampa Women's Prayer Connection will meet 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Tuesday (Oct. 9) at Bob Evans, 16314 North Dale Mabry, Tampa. For more information call (813) 857-8283.

New Tampa Women's Connection will host its fall luncheon 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 16 at Tampa Palms Golf and Country Club, 5811 Tampa Palms Blvd. Mainstream Boutique will present a Fall Fashion Show and have items available for sale. Speaker Carol Foster will share her story "Connecting the Dots." Cost is $20 at the door but reservations are required by Oct. 11. For more information and to register, email


  1. Fin is Pinellas County's Pet of the Week. Friends of Strays Animal Shelter
    The 4-year-old mixed breed is available for adoption at Friends of Strays Animal Shelter
  2. The Unitarian Universalist Church of Tarpon Springs, at 230 Grand Blvd., has reopened to the public following a six-year restoration effort that started as a sinkhole repair in 2013. Jeff  Rosenfield
    The Unitiarian Universalist Church opens to the public after a six-year restoration project.
  3. Treasure Island city commissioners voted to add a dog park in Rosselli Park. PHOTO BY TOM GERMOND  |
    A donation from the Capri Civic Association will establish the dog park, over some opposition.
  4. A woman surveys her home destroyed by Typhoon Hagibis  this month in Nagano, Japan. More victims and damage have been found in the typhoon-hit areas of central and northern Japan, where rescue crews are searching for people still missing. JAE C. HONG  |  AP
    Typhoon Habigis caused devastation to much of Japan. Nagano got some of the worst of it.
  5. Travis Malloy who runs an 8-acre farm with his assistant Shelby Alinsky on the east side of Temple Terrace, raises organic beef, pigs, turkeys and chickens. Malloy has also set up a number of...
  6. The Doc Webb house, which became a point of contention over its historic status. LUIS SANTANA  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The City Council will vote on amended regulations about third-party designation meant to quell verbal and legal skirmishes over historic preservation
  7. File photo of the Church of Scientology's Flag building in downtown Clearwater (left) and Mark Bunker, a candidate for Clearwater City Council (right). Mark Bunker
    One side accused the other of acting like a Nazi.
  8. Thousands are expected to come out for the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event on Saturday at Raymond James Stadium. American Cancer Society
    The nonprofit has shifted its annual walk to the home of the Buccaneers
  9. Former NFL running back Warrick Dunn spends time with new homeowner LaToya Reedy and her son, AnTrez, at 918 43rd St. S. SCOTT KEELER  |  Times
    The retired Tampa Bay Buccaneer running back partnered with Habitat for Humanity and others to give a hardworking nursing assistant and her son the home of their dreams.
  10. The traffic signal for eastbound traffic on Drew Street at McMullen-Booth Road in Clearwater. Image by Archive
    A reader wonders why the sign at the end of Bayside Bridge instructs trucks heading north to exit during specified hours rather than stay on the bridge.