Welcome to The News Tribune’s ninth annual Sock Drive, just one toe shy of the Big Size 10.
When other things are old and spare, this year’s drive is New and Improved with:
More drop-off sites!
More cubic feet!
More cold feet!
More hot firefighters!
More toothpaste, used coats, boots and shoes and baby clothes!
Unlike New York, where they only have a parade, Tacoma and Pierce County kick off their holiday season with a call to Wes Wesley, Hospitality Kitchen’s Grand Squirrel of Security and Outreach. A man with winter always on his mind, he hoards socks. After each Sock Drive harvest, he stashes them in closets and storage rooms at Catholic Community Services HQ. He brings them out only as needed, truly needed, to make them last until the next day after Thanksgiving, when the harvest kicks up its reinforced heels again.
It is to Wesley that we owe the tradition of getting up very early on Black Friday to buy half-price socks for people we don’t know.
“Socks are like gold,” he said one wet November Monday in 2003. That sentence launched the drive.
We can, of course, skip the getting up early and buy good socks whenever and wherever we find them.
For the Hospitality Kitchen’s guests, the best socks are made of wool and acrylic, not cotton. Cotton socks hoard moisture. The feet they’re on get cold and damp and sick with sores and fungus. Wool and acrylic wick the moisture away from the feet trudging from shelter to services and meals. Those services include laundry, which means a high-quality sock can have a long and happy life.
Even at Hospitality Kitchen, the sock drive is an all-ages event, with plenty of room for Tinkerbell and Belle, Mater and Woody. The Kitchen, like Phoenix Housing Network and Pierce County Housing Authority, is serving more families than ever.
“It’s very big,” Loren Osier of Catholic Community Services’ Phoenix Housing Network said of the demand. “It’s just huge. It’s enormous.”
The agencies, even with our support, can’t house everyone.
But, with our help, they can sock everyone. They share your donations among others doing the same work. A sock put into a bin in Tacoma can end up on the tootsies of a third-grader in Graham.
And now, thanks to Tacoma Assistant Fire Chief Jolene Davis, there are more bins than ever.
TFD is proud and happy to announce that all of its stations in Tacoma, and the ones where it contracts services in Fife and Fircrest, are Official Sock Drops.
“Every day we see the effects of homelessness in our community,” Davis said. “Especially during bad weather, a seemingly small thing like a clean, dry pair of socks can make a real difference in the comfort and health of someone who is homeless.”
Davis buys socks because of that, and because it makes her feel good.
There’s a lot of resentment and trash talk going around, and all that incivility makes us smaller. Davis has a plan: Every time she thinks unkindly of someone, she’ll counter the diminishing effects of that thought with a pair of socks.
Call a candidate a ninny, buy socks.
Badmouth a New York banker, buy socks.
Mock the Occupiers, buy socks.
If we did that, we could make Wesley’s dream come true.
In his dearest footwear fantasy, his main storage room is filled ceiling to door with lovely new socks.
That room measures 2,000 cubic feet, just about the right size for the year before an election.
Kathleen Merryman: 253-597-8677 kathleen.merryman @thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/street
Rock ’em, sock ’em, drop ’em!
- All fire stations in Tacoma, Fife and Fircrest. New socks only.
- Hospitality Kitchen, 1323 S. Yakima Ave., back parking lot, 253-383-3697, 6:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays; 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Socks, shoes, clean clothing, especially for women, coats, hygiene products.
- Phoenix Housing Network, 7050 S. G St., 253-471-5340, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Socks, cleaning and hygiene products, clothing, bedding, bathroom items.
- Pierce County Housing Authority, 603 S. Polk St., near South 112th and C streets in Parkland, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 253-620-5427. Socks.
- The News Tribune lobby, 1950 S. State St., 253-597-8742, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. New socks only.