Cold feet are the worst. That's why, each holiday season, Tacomans try their best to get socks to the people who need them.
We've told you stories about homeless men and women who need wool-poly socks to keep their feet from getting sick. We've introduced you to school kids who aren't making a fashion statement with that no-sock look. We're pretty sure you get the picture.
As the drive heads into its 11th year, we're celebrating with stories about the people and organizations stepping into the tradition.
It's the simplest of operations: Someone puts out a basket with a poster; people put socks in the basket; the socks go straight to people in schools, food banks, transitional housing, shelters and drop-in centers.
New socks are a kindness with no down side. If, for example, you worry that giving money to homeless people might pay for their addictions, give them socks. If you want your donation to stay in your neighborhood, take socks to your nearest food bank. If you think it would seem weird to offer socks to a school kid, drop the socks off with Communities in Schools – or at any school's reception desk.
Variety is a good thing, so each year workplaces join the drive, or move to an equally helpful charity. That's how Nathan Jensen came to the drive.
Tacoma's firefighters, who have done socks for a decade, are collecting toys this year. (Tacoma Weekly is, too, and we think they have made a happy choice.)
But Nathan understands the value of warm feet, and giving, and assuming new responsibilities. He's growing up in a family of firefighters, and he's a National Junior Honor Society member. Nathan saw the value of sock drop sites in every neighborhood, so he wanted to keep the sock boxes in every station.
Here, in his own words, is how he did it:
“The reason that I became involved in the sock drive this year is because the Tacoma Fire Department was not going to run the sock drive, and I think that this is a great way to help the homeless keep warm. So I asked my dad, who is in the fire department, if I could organize the sock drive through the fire department, and they approved of me helping.
“The best way to collect the socks, in my opinion, was to have boxes at every fire station. I went to every fire station on November 26 and talked to the firefighters about helping me collect socks at their stations. They all agreed, so I left the boxes, and I will check occasionally to collect the socks.
“After I learned that I could help the fire department with the sock drive, I thought my school would like to help. I attend Tacoma Life Christian Academy and they love to help the community. I talked to my National Junior Honor Society advisor, Mrs. Brown, and asked if the school wanted to help me with this project. She asked my middle school Principal Mr. Lovelady, and they said that that would be OK.
“I also talked to my brother Todd Jensen, the assistant chief at Graham Fire & Rescue, if Graham wanted to join the sock drive. He agreed to participate in the sock drive as a collection point.
“I will collect for the last time on December 20th.”
Thanks to Nathan, Put A Sock In It has a donation spot in every Tacoma – and Graham – neighborhood. Socks given in Graham will stay in Graham, so Nathan has spread warmth to that community.
Both Tacoma Strength locations: Cross/Fit Tacoma, 411 Fawcett Ave., and Strength & Conditioning, 3113-c Pine St.
Catholic Community Services, 1323 S. Yakima Ave., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
Oakland High School, 3319 S. Adams St., 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.
Tacoma Weekly, 2588 Pacific Highway, Fife, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
All Tacoma fire and police stations. Thank you firefighters and officers!
All Emergency Food Network and FISH Food Bank sites.
Tacoma Life Christian Academy, 1717 S. Union Ave.
All Graham Fire & Rescue stations.
Grocery Outlet stores have packs of six pairs of poly-wool wicking socks for $4.99.