Socks, Socks, and More Socks

A couple of months ago I gave my Lions club the idea to collect socks for homeless people. I never in a million years imagined I would get the response that happened. We service the needy people of our community through a local township food pantry. I was surprised to learn that in a community as upscale as Frankfort, that there are 350 souls registered with them. My original proposal was to give each client of the food pantry a new pair of socks. The club board of directors gave me a green light to go ahead.

My first step was to solicit volunteers from the membership to join in on the fun. Fifteen Lions signed up for the project. We met virtually using ZOOM, and I explained the goal, one pair of new socks to every client of the food pantry. In my training as a manager during my working years it was highly recommended to use teams to do a job. Teams work smarter and their collective brainpower allows them to make better decisions.

Our first effort was to discuss how we would deal with buying socks, the vendors, getting quotes and discounts, etc. We switched the subject to how we would physically separate pre-packaged bundles of socks to donate. That discussion led to a new discussion of the goal. Why not save the effort of separating by giving each person a six-pack of new socks? All along, it was my intention to have the Lions purchase the socks and my emphasis was on selling a proposal to the board for how much money to ask for. That’s when the brainstorming went into high gear and in a matter of minutes we shifted from the Lions Club buying socks to getting the public to donate socks. The team loved this idea and in a matter of a few minutes had formulated a plan to get a sock collection underway.

One team member worked as a substitute teacher for the local school district. He thought this would make an exciting project for the school kids and would also teach a lesson. The remainder of us suggested various businesses to ask to be collection points. Another volunteered to spread the word on Facebook, and our website, another raised her hand to design a flyer. The wheels were turning, no, I mean they were spinning and smoking.

We met in another week, again virtually, and reviewed progress and filling in gaps. By the end of the first week, we emptied the collection boxes and sorted 670 pairs of socks. While we were spreading the news to the community, the Middle School Student Council challenged their classmates to a contest. The room that collects the most socks by the end of February wins a lunch time pizza party. This school turned on the other two schools in the District and they also began collections. Meanwhile, the second school district within our boundaries caught sock fever, and the Junior High began collecting. Not to be outdone the Key Club from the local high school also jumped in.

My part in this was to provide collection boxes for the community and the schools, eighty-five to be exact. I spun my wheels running between Home Depot and my shop to paste signs on the boxes designating them as Sock Drop points. We gave the drive a name; Care. Share. Give a Pair. This catchy phrase spread community wide via the local digital news-site, and on our local community TV.

As I write this we are a couple of days from the official end of the drive. At last count we had collected 5180 pairs of socks and we expect another two thousand to come in from the remaining schools and community boxes. Who would have thought? A simple idea that caught the imagination of a lot of people in the town. All of them pent up with energy from the COVID lockdown. All of them recognizing that their neighbors are in need and they are still in better shape than those in need.

At this moment the kids who won the contest are lunching on pizza supplied by another club member who owns the most popular pizza joint in town. In the meantime, the Lions are now facing a new problem, i.e where to donate the thousands of surplus socks. I love problems like that.

Where the is a need there is a Lion.

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