Students, company team collect socks for the needy
The need for a pair of socks hit home for Ellie Burggen during a recent church mission trip to New York City.
As Burggen, a sophomore at Mount Tabor High School, was handing out food and water to passers-by, she said several women asked if she and her group had socks.
“I was taken aback by the request, thinking to myself ‘don’t most people have socks, even the poor?’ ” Burggen said.
“The more I thought about it, the more I realized that they may not, and it’s not just in places like New York, but on our community, too.”
That’s why Burggen chose to participate in Mount Tabor’s sock drive, which is connected to a Hanesbrands Inc. effort to donate at least 250,000 pairs nationally to shelters and groups that serve the homeless and those living in high poverty areas. The company has been providing sock donations for five years.
Mount Tabor contributed 1,114 pairs of socks, making them the winner of a competition between eight Forsyth County high schools. Hanesbrands is donating $1,000 to Mount Tabor for its first-place finish.
Locally donated socks will be provided in January to Samaritan Ministries, Bethesda Center for the Homeless, The Salvation Army Center of Hope and the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission.
Ed Weiss, Mount Tabor’s principal, said it was the school’s third year of participation. The first year involved Mount Tabor and Reagan, with Reynolds and West Forsyth joining last year. East Forsyth, Glenn, North Forsyth and Walkertown entered the competition this year.
The schools combined to provide 3,170 pairs of socks, said Cheryl Lindsay, director of global diversity and community relations for Hanesbrands. The company will match the donations.
“When people think of making a donation to a Salvation Army shelter, they give coats, sweaters, mittens, gloves, with socks way down on the list,” said Major James Allison, co-area commander of the Winston-Salem unit. “Socks are very necessary because I would think that for most people, when their feet get cold, their whole body gets cold.”
Allison said socks are a year-round need for most people, particularly those with health issues.
For example, socks play a crucial role in helping diabetics avoid cutting or bruising their feet, which can lead to sores, foot ulcers and the potential of amputating toes and feet in extreme situations. Having chronically sore feet, exasperated by the lack of socks, can be a major obstacle for some people maintaining a job or taking care of basic needs.
Allison said the 60 Salvation Army units in the Carolinas expect to collectively receive about 6,250 pairs from the Hanesbrands initiative for the 2013-14 winter season. He did not know how many the local unit would get.
“The sock drive represents a great outpouring of Hanesbrands’ concern for the needy and less fortunate,” he said.
Burggen’s main role was baking cupcakes that students and faculty could buy for $1. The money raised from the sale of cupcakes, doughnuts and holiday candy canes was used to buy packages of socks. Weiss said about half of the sock pairs that Mount Tabor collected was donated; the other half was bought through the fundraising efforts.
“One teacher bought cupcakes for his entire class, which was pretty cool and completely in the reason for giving,” said Teddy Christakos, a Mount Tabor freshman. “Our student council and our student clubs have really embraced this effort, like they have other fund-raising efforts that connect us with our community.”
Hanesbrands opened the competition to all participants in the Frank Spencer Holiday Classic, an annual boys’ basketball tournament that will be held Dec. 26-28 at the Joel Coliseum complex. Hanesbrands’ Champion apparel brand is a sponsor.
Three schools collected a minimum of 200 pairs of socks to become eligible to compete in a free-throw shootout at halftime of the Champion bracket’s championship game Dec. 28. For every free throw made – three attempts by the principal and two by a student – the company will donate 50 pairs of socks. The winning team also gets a $1,000 check for their school.
“Our national sock drive allows Hanes to help the needy across the country, and our local holiday sock drive allows us to make a difference here in our own back yard,” Lindsay said.
“This program is about helping others, and also helping young people develop into well-rounded citizens,” she said. “These students are taking a leadership role in helping build their community, and that’s something we’re incredibly proud to be a part of.”
Weiss stressed that all the participating schools should be commended for their efforts.
“Speaking as a principal, and as a parent, you can’t put a price on the power of giving back,” Weiss said.
“From the moment our students arrive on campus, they are informed that is part of what they are here to learn, as much as preparing them for college or a career.
“We want them aware of giving back in hope that when they become adults, they will instill the same belief system into the young people they are around.”
For the national effort, Hanesbrands is coordinating its efforts through The Salvation Army, the Invisible People initiative and five homeless shelters – three in New York City and one each in Syracuse, N.Y., and Los Angeles.
Over the past five years, Hanesbrands has donated 2.7 million socks through the effort.
Want to help?
More information about the national sock drive can be found on Twitter by searching for HanesforGood.