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Adventist Health collected a mountain of socks for Portland Rescue Mission's clients

COURTESY: ADVENTIST HEALTH - Joyce Newmyer, left, president of Adventist Health's Pacific region, and Terry Johnsson, Adventist Health's vice president of mission integration, fill a bin with some of the more than 10,000 pairs of socks the health care provider collected for people who access services at Portland Rescue Mission.

When Terry Johnsson was 9 years old, he spent Thanksgiving serving meals at Portland Rescue Mission. It was an experience he never forgot.

Now, as an adult, Johnsson and his employer Adventist Health have drummed up a troop of volunteers to collect a mountain of socks for the Rescue Mission, which provides food, shelter, and recovery services to men, women and children experiencing homelessness in Portland.

As the vice president of mission integration for Adventist Health's Pacific region, part of Johnsson's job is to find organizations in the community already doing good things that the health care provider can then partner with and support. Johnsson came up with the idea to collect socks after learning from folks at the Rescue Mission that they are one of the items most often requested by people who access the nonprofit's services.

While Adventist Health holds events throughout the year to benefit a range of groups, an annual concert is its main effort during the holiday season. Now a six-year tradition, the November concert features a well-known performer and a list of songs designed to get people in a festive spirit. In past years, admission has been a canned food item.This year, Johnsson proposed asking those attending the concert to bring a pair of new socks for the homeless.COURTESY: ADVENTIST HEALTH - Pairs of new socks, along with cans of food, were the admission price for those who attended a holiday concert that Adventist Health organized in November. The socks were donated recently to Portland Rescue Mission.

The 2,000 attendees at this year's concert on Nov. 23 at the New Hope Church near Clackamas Town Center took the request to heart, contributing to what eventually became a mountain of more than 10,000 pairs of socks. Among those donating socks were about 200 of Adventist's employees, Johnsson said.

Adventist Health's first sock collection effort was such a success that Johnsson said it will probably be continued at next year's concert and may even be expanded to allow the health care provider's clinic locations to participate.

He and Joyce Newmyer, president of Adventist Health's Pacific region, already have handed their haul of socks over to Eric Bauer, the executive director of Portland Rescue Mission. But Johnsson said there's still time for people to make a sock donation to the organization.

"If someone gets inspired by this, if they want to get a bag of socks together, Rescue Mission would be happy to take them at their Burnside location," Johnsson said.

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