Blair Michaela Shanahan Lane wanted to change the world. At just 11, she had a clear vision for a non profit organization that would provide hope, comfort, support, socks, and other necessities to children in distressed situations. Her vision stemmed from a desire to fulfill real-life needs that she witnessed firsthand. Every time a foster child entered her home, Blair noticed that they usually had stuffed animals — but not the simple essentials, like a clean pair of socks.
Ever compassionate, pragmatic, and a determined, natural leader, Blair knew that the non profit organization she envisioned could make a difference by raising funds and awareness for children in distressed situations. Most importantly, she could help these children feel special in a time of confusion and anguish.
Though she was years away from starting her Girl Scout Gold Award project — usually completed in the junior or senior year of high school — in sixth grade Blair began filling journals with her plans for a non profit organization to help families and children in distressed situations. Her solution? Foster Socks, a program that would collect socks, clothing, necessities, and money for children in need. Her vision already extended beyond foster children to include children who were homeless, displaced, abused, low-income, and more. She was driven by the desire to help all kids experiencing uncertainty and instability, and she wanted to create a non profit organization that would fulfill the needs of these children.
Blair demonstrated the same initiative, ambition, and enthusiasm when it came to organizing her neighborhood’s block party. Her fliers may have been misspelled, but everyone understood which side of the street should bring meat and which side should bring veggies.
“She was the neighborhood ambassador. An old soul. She was never afraid or in too much of a hurry to talk to anyone,” said Michele Shanahan-DeMoss, Blair’s mother.
Blair was in a hurry when it came to Foster Socks, though. There was a sense of urgency to her project because she understood the urgency that children in distressed situations feel, and she wanted to start a non profit organization that would help them immediately. Had she been able to launch Foster Socks on her own, there’s no doubt that Blair would have inspired countless people to donate socks and other necessities to children in distressed situations.
Unfortunately, Blair wasn’t able to witness her vision come to fruition.
July 4, 2011 began like any other Independence Day for Blair — she was celebrating the holiday in the backyard with family and friends just as she had since she was 2 years old. Then Blair collapsed. Nearby, four revelers had discharged a firearm, and the bullet struck Blair.
Blair received hundreds of visitors in the hospital, including friends, family, community leaders, and pastors. Her mother, Michele, was amazed to see how many people Blair had touched.
“So many people mentioned that Blair knew how to live as a good Christian,” said Michele. “Her understanding and devotion to that was not about religion. She went to the church nearly every week, but it was never about the building.” It was about love and the people she came in contact with.
Blair passed away on Tuesday, July 5, 2011. Though she never launched her non profit organization to donate socks and necessities to children in distressed situations, as an organ donor, Blair may have given new life to at least people 6 people between the ages of 6 and 60.
Clearly, Blair’s kindness and compassion were felt throughout the community, even if her vision for a non profit organization was not realized before her death.
“Blair radiated the love and presence of God. She would have gotten this done, “said Michele. “Now it’s up to us.”
Blair’s memory now lives on through Blair’s Foster Socks, the Kansas City-based non profit organization set up in her honor. Since its formation in 2011, Blair’s Foster Socks has mobilized the Kansas City Missouri, Kansas and beyond, advocating for children in distressed situations and encouraging thousands of people to donate socks, clothing, and other basic necessities to kids in need. Blair would undoubtedly be proud to see her vision come to life — and she’d be right there at the head of the Blair’s Foster Socks volunteers, passionately voicing the need for people to donate socks and other necessities.
You can donate socks, clothing, or money today to help carry out Blair’s legacy. It’s a simple gesture that won’t take much time or money — but when you donate socks to our non profit organization, it will have a big impact on the children you help.