The story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all. ~Frederick Buechner

Mr. Rice Socks

The kitchen just got a new recipe from a guy who will never be on the Food Network.

Eric Clayton.

His recipe? Just two ingredients. An old sock and rice.


Don’t worry, it’s not for eating.

It’s for warming the soul.

Eric, a long time resident of JPUSA, takes his Rice Sock recipe very seriously.

And what is a rice sock? It’s a tube sock, sweat sock, or argyle that has lost its mate in the spin cycle, but found new life warming the residents of Uptown’s Tent Village on cold nights.


Eric and his family heat the socks daily and distribute them to the residents of Tent City, who currently live under the Wilson Viaduct. The socks are picked up each afternoon and reheated for that night.

“Our goal is that we want these folks to be warm and not to be harassed. They often have to pack up their tents and move to the park without warning, only to get kicked out of there due to not having a tent permit.”

Sort of like no room at the inn, I thought to myself.

“One night,” Eric started, “we stayed out all night at Tent City. It was hard to sleep, noisy and cold. But the next morning, we got to return to our mansion at Friendly Towers. We have to let the Tent community know that we care.”

I joined Eric last Friday to distribute the socks on the first snowfall of the year.


The adventure started in the dining hall as he packed the microwaves with assorted footwear. It smelled like a cross between burnt popcorn and a gym locker.

“Five minutes should do it,” he smiled and checked his watch. We threw the steamy socks into the cooler and headed towards Tent City.

It was a short distance but Eric drove anyway, as the cooler was heavy with over fifty pounds of heat.

My eyes got teary as we pulled up to Tent City in Eric’s old jalopy. The residents rushed to meet us.

“The rice socks are here!” a rosy face smiled.


It reminded me of the scene in Wizard of Oz when all of the munchkins came out to meet Dorothy in her ruby slippers. The curious and cold came out of their tents to get a warm rice sock.

“Thank you!” another smiled.

Tent Village wasn’t short on food that night, they were just hungry for was warmth and acceptance.

“They look out for each other,” Eric explained. “They move each other’s tents, get tarps, whatever.”

I thought of how many high rises I lived in where I didn’t know my neighbors.

“The heart of Jesus is here,” Eric nodded and continued, “All they want is not to be harassed.”

I thought about Rosehill Cemetery, just south of Uptown. Three hundred and fifty pristine acres devoted to dead politicians, civil war soldiers, ball players, and businessmen. Funny how the deceased are treated with more respect than the living.

I left Tent Village feeling blessed and with a new favorite recipe. Suddenly, I looked forward to losing socks in the washer, knowing that the orphan could be filled with so much joy.

And here’s Eric’s recipe.



One orphaned cotton heavy sock (preferably one where the grains of rice cannot poke out of)

Two cups uncooked rice

One small cup water


  1. Place the white rice in the sock.

2. Tie the sock so the rice cannot come out.

  1. Place a small cup of water in the microwave along with the sock (to add moisture to the heating process).
  2. Heat three to five minutes until hot. The rice will retrain heat for several hours
Ginger MacDonald
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