Students at Frog Pond Elementary School in Little Egg Harbor donated 821 pairs of socks to Covenant House, a homeless shelter for homeless youth, in Atlantic City earlier this month.
The idea to collect the socks came fromKerry Gunn, who teaches fifth grade at the school and showed her students a facebook video by Kid President Robby Novak, who pointed out that socks (according to some metrics) are among the most-needed and least-donated clothing items. Gunn said she presented the idea to her fellow fifth-grade teachers who supported it. “We called this service project, ‘Socktober–Kids Helping Kids,’” she said, in a statement.
In response to a series of questions (“Who donated the most socks? Why’d that person have so many socks? Are they a caterpillar?”) Gunn said school officials didn’t keep individual statistics. Instead, they set school-wide benchmarks at 500, 750 and 1000 pairs of socks, with a graduated system of rewards.
For example: If the kids collected 500 pairs, they got to spray the teachers with silly string. At 750 it was silly string and whipped-cream pies. If they collected more than 1,000 pairs, there would be a mystery reward.
The project kicked off officially on October 11. The students made posters and talked the project up with friends and family. The school held a Crazy Sock Day to drum-up additional interest. See below for a picture of what Crazy Sock Day at Frog Pond Elementary might have entailed.
The kids collected 500 pairs of socks in the first 15 days. Five days later, they’d rounded up another 300. They finished with 821 pairs, enough for silly string and whipped cream.
But it was not just the promise of teacher humiliation that spurred donations, Gunn said. When the students heard the Covenant House kids were calling “dibs” on socks, they were genuinely proud, “knowing that they helped people who needed things.” Then they asked, “what they could collect next because apparently they are really good at collecting things.”
Dena Ferone, volunteer manager at Covenant House, drove the thirty miles from Atlantic City to Little Egg Harbor to collect the socks.
By the way, this is what the fifth-grade teachers looked like, post silly string.
A website HappySocktober.com was created by Brad Montague, who started collecting and distributing socks to the homeless in Arkansas in 2011. The website helps you set goals and establish a collection point. It also gives suggestions for getting the word out, including sample flyers (though my favorite idea, Crazy Sock Day, was not on the list!) and helps find a charity near you.
Last year, students from Frog Pond Elementary raised money to buy supplies for military personnel by making and selling green ribbons.
There’s already a food drive underway and the students are planning more fundraisers in the future.