Socks for Seniors, a national nonprofit community service project dedicated to helping seniors keep their feet warm, is searching for a local volunteer coordinator in the Oklahoma City area.
“It started about 12 years ago and it grew slowly in different places, locally originally, and then about three years ago I wanted to make it a national program so we started contacting folks in local areas all over the country to do it,” said program director Jamie Coyne. “It's grown into about 250 cities since then.”
Coyne began collecting socks with his wife, Kitty, in Columbus, Ohio, in 2000. Within a few years, the program had started to spread.
Two of those 250 cities it has spread to are Tulsa and Haskell, but Coyne decided it was time to have a collection location in the heart of Oklahoma.
“The person that doesn't know about the program, a pair of socks can seem kind of insignificant,” Coyne said. “The truth is, it started simply because I was doing a music program in senior communities — nursing homes, assisted living centers — and one day there was a lady who normally was very upbeat, but seemed kind of down and when I asked what the problem was she said, ‘You know if I just had a warm pair of socks, my feet are freezing.'
“I gave her a pair of socks and it made her day, it was in a dining room setting and so other people wanted socks, too. You can't just give to one. So the next time I went back I took socks for everybody and it just grew from there.”
Coyne said it not only positively impacts the seniors of each community, it also warms the hearts of people collecting the socks.
“I had a lady tell me, she said, right now with the economy the way it is and these negative nonstop campaign ads on TV, she said she heard about this and it was like a breath of fresh air, it was just so positive that she wanted to do it with her friends,” Coyne said. “Everybody that collects, it seems to do a lot for them, too. It's fun, easy, free, doesn't take a lot of time or effort and they feel good about what they're doing.”
Coyne stressed that people should donate unique socks with a funky pattern, shape or design, not just boring white ones.
“Some of those unique socks become conversation starters with people who come and go there,” he said. “For somebody that normally wouldn't have anything to potentially start up a conversation about … it makes a difference in that way in their lives.”
Some people have started collection boxes already and some don't start until right before Christmas, so there's no time frame, Coyne said.
“If they don't have a local place to distribute them in mind, we can help them with that, but we do like for all of the socks to stay local,” he said. “It's pretty simple. Basically, get a box, decorate it and find a place to put it. It just starts with one box, one person and one location.”