Tacoma Fire Department Deputy Chief Jolene Davis had an odd dream the first week of November. “I was sick, and dreaming that I was getting ready to go somewhere, and I was putting on wet socks,” she said. “I didn’t know why I was putting on wet socks when I had 10 dry pairs in a drawer.” She decoded the dream last week when City Manager T.C. Broadnax authorized every city fire station to be a donation site for Tacoma’s 10th annual citywide sock drive. Last year, Davis and fellow Deputy Chief Faith Mueller coordinated the sock drop-offs, collected them from the stations and delivered them to Wes Wesley at Catholic Community Services’ Hospitality Kitchen. They became connoisseurs of footwear fabrics. “The ones that really make a difference are wool and acrylic blends,” Davis said. “They dry quickly and they’re durable.” They are also treasured. People lucky enough to have them, and a shelter bed, wash them at night and put them on, clean and dry, in the morning. “When we give them, we have a direct impact on someone’s life,” Davis said.
We impact their health, too, said Mueller, who is a nurse and a military reservist. “Good foot health is invaluable,” Mueller said. “When you get wet, dirty feet – and I’ve seen this as a soldier – you can get trench foot. It impacts your whole health.” With sick feet, it hurts to walk, and people grow sedentary and vulnerable. Mueller hates to see that, especially if she can change it, so she stocks the sock drive. But, she said, Davis is the super stocker. “You bought a zillion socks,” she said to her colleague. Davis pushed the modesty button. “It’s a relatively small part of my grocery bill or my Costco bill, to throw in a couple of bundles of nice, warm socks,” she said. Last year, lots of people agreed with her. Donors dropped more socks than anyone expected into the fire station boxes.
“It was a mountain of socks,” Davis said of the donations by the end of the drive. “My office was full, and we had boxes in the hall. We loaded up a fire truck, and when we delivered them, people lit up. They just lit up.” And, on the eve of the sock drive, they turned up again in her dream of wet socks and cold feet. She has supplied sock drive boxes and posters, to every station. And she already has started filling them. (Editor's note: If you would like to become a sock drive collection point, e-mail email@example.com and we will get a Tacoma Weekly “Put a Sock In It” donation bin to you.)