Gateway: Living

Harbor Heights students feel the gift of giving during ‘Socktober’

From left, Harbor Heights Elementary third-graders Leila Vernon and Kian Greenwood, and fifth-graders Jack Marshall, Axel Zapata, Karleigh Hammer and Sophia Robertson, all contributors to the school’s Socktober sock drive during October, head for the effort’s collection site.
From left, Harbor Heights Elementary third-graders Leila Vernon and Kian Greenwood, and fifth-graders Jack Marshall, Axel Zapata, Karleigh Hammer and Sophia Robertson, all contributors to the school’s Socktober sock drive during October, head for the effort’s collection site. Special to the Gateway

Folks at Harbor Heights Elementary School are well aware that it’s getting cold outside.

So much so, they have implemented campaign built around finding warm socks for those in need when the weather changes.

The annual “Socktober” campaign is a sock drive which runs during the month of October to fill the often-overlooked need for warm socks, said Jane Nelson, a fifth grade teacher at Harbor Heights Elementary and co-leader of campaign.

I got to see the results of the kids’ sock drive efforts. They were impressive!

First-grader Ava Chavez wanted “to help people stay safe. It made me happy that people are safe.”

Classmate Autumn Lynch said, “It makes my heart happy because of the poor people.”

“It all started with Kid President and his brother-in-law, Brad, who are known for making videos to inspire the world,” Nelson said. “They gave us pep talks and asked thoughtful questions for us to reflect on. It was through Kid’s videos in the fall of 2015 that I first learned about Socktober. I asked our principal at the time, Nikki Hittle, what she thought of our school participating and she said, ‘Go for it.’ At our next staff meeting, support was unanimous.”

“That began our school’s participation in Socktober,” HH Principal Stephanie Strader said. “Jane Nelson, Shea Sullivan and I work together with staff and students to organize this philanthropic effort. Staff and students participate by bringing in socks for families in need and by wearing wacky socks on Wednesday to bring awareness to Socktober.”

Fourth-grader Finlay Henderson donated to Socktober because “I thought about all the kids who would have a nice warm pair of socks. I truly feel that when Socktober comes around, you need to put yourself in their shoes, not your own. I think it is a super cool thing our school does and am proud to be part of this wonderful thing.”

Third-grader Leila Vernon thinks giving socks is important “because people should have socks in cold seasons like fall and winter to stay warm. People don’t like being cold.”

Classmate Brennan Atkins feels “some people don’t have a home but Socktober helps them. So, give socks and other clothes and food. I did it this year and it feels good.”

“What Socktober means to me is you doing something for a person that doesn’t have a thing you have like, say, socks,” said fifth-grader Karleigh Hammer. “Maybe someone is homeless and their clothes are all torn up. Maybe all they need is a pair of socks to keep their feet warm in harsh winters. Socktober is important because you have a chance to see someone happy and thankful for a small thing, food, clothes, etc. Socktober helps a lot of people probably more then you think!”

Said classmate Sophia Robertson: “I donated socks because I have so much and they have so little. There are families who live on the streets. A lot of the time, I take socks, clean clothes, and more for granted. So Socktober is a great way to show kindness. All I’m saying is that even the smallest thing like socks can change a person’s day. I love Socktober.”

Second-grader Jeffrey Swanberg declared, “I feel amazing because I was nice and donated socks and I was super nice when I donated warm socks.”

Classmate Parker Marsh noted, “I donated the socks because I lived there last year. I donated them because my papa and grama lived there. I donated them because my friends still live there. I help the USA because it is my home.”

The school delivers the socks to local organizations like the Children’s Home Society and Peninsula FISH, to support families in our community, Strader said.

“In the first year, we collected 950 pairs of socks and we continue to surpass that number,” she said. “This year, our third consecutive year of Socktober, we collected 1,786 pairs. Each year we have been able to give a little more than the year before. We have collected a total of 4,513 pairs of socks over three years.”

Fifth-grader Jack Marshall feels, “Socktober is important to me because I like to help others when needed and also because I think that everyone in the Peninsula School District should really care about people with no money, no food, no clothes, and no home because I for sure do and I hope everybody in my school does too. And just because we have money does not mean we can’t share it. Also, I want to be a willing and generous person and I hope you do, too. With donating socks and underwear, it may not help you a lot but it really helps the needy. That’s why you and I should be a big part of Socktober.”

Jack’s classmate, Alex Zapata, thinks, “Socktober is an important act of kindness because it helps those in need who are hit by unfortunate events.”

This year Harbor Heights also joined in the effort, ‘Undies for Everyone,’ collecting 472 pieces of new underwear, another overlooked basic for families impacted by the hurricanes that have hit Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico.

“The undies will be shipped to Houston, where they will be distributed,” Strader said.

Care to learn more? Try: https://www.undiesforeveryone.org/

Principal Strader added: “All it takes is one simple small act of kindness to change a life.”

And that’s the truth!

Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at hughmcm26@gmail.com.

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