Tacoma Weekly's entryway is getting cluttered, and we are over the moon about it.
Actually, we are at 2588 Pacific Hwy., between the Harley Davidson dealership and Meineke Car Care Center, but the boxes of food, toys and, coming soon, socks, are sending our hearts skyward.
Folks are stopping by with donations for Toys for Tots, PCmarvets, Charlie's Dinosaur and the Thanksgiving food basket drive organized by Planting Seeds.
Never mind that two of those drives date back to the spring and summer. Over the past year, we've been loaded up with proof that Tacomans don't forget who needs help. If they know where to give, they keep doing it. Just tell them where and when and that it's never too late.
Last November, the Tacoma Weekly staff embarked on our first big community drive. We asked you to keep alive what was then the 10th annual citywide sock drive. It started a decade ago a few days before Thanksgiving when Wes Wesley, who ran the donations closet at Catholic Community Services' Hospitality Kitchen, told me, “Socks. Socks are like gold.”
Many, most, of the guests at Hospitality Kitchen, Nativity House and the city's other drop-in centers get cold feet during the winter. They spend a lot of time walking, and if their socks get wet, they stay wet. Wet feet are beyond miserable. They are susceptible to disease that can lead to amputations.
Not to get too pragmatic here, but it's in taxpayers' best interests to do whatever it takes to help people of the street keep their feet. Given that, good wool or polyester socks that wick moisture away from the skin are, indeed, like gold. So Wesley asked for the best for the poorest, and you responded. Each year, you donated around 1,000 pairs of socks shared among drop-in centers, Phoenix Housing Network and Pierce County Housing Authority.
This year, all Emergency Food Network and FISH Food Banks are joining the drive. The new socks you take to your local food bank will stay in your neighborhood.
Last year, Communities in Schools joined the drive, and broadened the range of great socks to share. With a place for every sort of footwear, we counted 2,920 pairs, including cute pairs for little kids, athletic socks and socks for work. And those were only the ones we counted. Hundreds more went directly to services – and onto happy feet.
We learned, too, how much fun people had when they joined the drive. Students at Franklin Elementary School turned it into a contest. St. Matthew Episcopal Church parishioners trimmed their tree with socks. City of Tacoma employees set up drop boxes in their departments, and Columbia Bank employees invited patrons to donate. Tacoma Strength & Conditioning challenged patrons of other gyms to match them.
At Thanksgiving dinner at our house, we say grace, then pass the collection basket for money we'll spend on Fred Meyer's legendary half-off sock sale on Black Friday.
TOYS FOR TOTS
If you can't extort your family for socks for cold feet, what can you extort from them?
Toys For Tots, that's what.
That brings us to the other boxes in our lobby now.
We're thrilled to join the 80-plus drop sites throughout Pierce County as a Toys For Tots collection site.
We're excited to work with the people who run the show, the Marine Corps League Detachment #504, with George Hight as volunteer coordinator. If you're a Tacoma Weekly reader and Hight's name sounds familiar, it's because he and Kelley Byers founded PCMARVETS, which connects veterans to the benefits they have earned.
Those members of the Marine Corps League work with the state Department of Social and Health Services caseworkers who enroll kids on the eligibility list. The social workers are the contact people for families.
And they collaborate with Pierce County Sheriff's Department deputies, including. Det. Ed Troyer. Troyer, the department spokesman who goes on television with the details of all our bad news, has a semi-secret life spreading good works. His connections at Port of Tacoma alert him when shipments of toys are bound for surplus. His friends in the community look forward to the fun of joining the drive that dates back to 1947.
And fun it can be. Last year, Troyer combined monetary donations, summoned teams of elves and gave them each a $500 VISA card and challenged them to spend it on the best possible deals within five hours.
This year, they're aiming at giving $40,000 worth of toys to needy children in the South Sound.
To learn how to donate to Toys for Tots, host a collection site or join in the fun at the warehouse, visit http://www.pierce-county-wa.toysfortots.org.
Here is where to put a sock in it:
• Catholic Community Services and Hospitality Kitchen, 1323 S. Yakima Ave., Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (CCS also welcomes hoodies, shoes, coats, toiletries and washed towels and blankets.)
• Oakland High School, 3319 S. Adams St., Tacoma, Mon.-Fri., 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call (253) 571-5136. (Oakland also welcomes new socks, toiletries, new or gently used clothing and shoes.)
• City of Tacoma Police headquarters and substations. Thank you, officers.
• Tacoma Weekly office at 2588 Pacific Hwy., nestled between Meineke Car Care and the Harley Davidson dealership.
The Grand Cinema, 606 S. Fawcett.
All Emergency Food Network and FISH Food Banks in Pierce County.