It was time for the honor students at Lake Gibson Middle to plan their next community service project, and naturally, they opted for something that evokes warm, fuzzy feelings:
Socks. Lots and lots of socks.
Specifically, a sock donation drive to benefit the homeless clients served by Lakeland’s Talbot House Ministries. And with that, October became Socktober at LGMS.
Created in 2011 and popularized on the Kid President YouTube channel, Socktober has grown into a national phenomenon supported by schools, charities and other organizations. Mervi Infante knew it would be a perfect fit for her students in the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) at LGMS.
“Any time that we do a service project I think it brings us closer together as a school,” said Infante, a reading teacher and NJHS advisor at Lake Gibson Middle. “It helps students develop leadership skills — to get out there and be social and serve the community.”
Still, Infante and her NJHS students had modest expectations for Socktober. It would be a new campaign, and October is a busy month at school.
“For a goal, we said we would be happy if we got at least 200 pairs,” Infante said.
The NJHS students designed posters and banners and promoted Socktober amongst their peers. They also handled collection duties when the donations began to come in.
It didn’t take long to smash the initial goal, as the socks tumbled in from LGMS students, employees and family members. One classroom piled up 33 pairs of socks; another managed to haul in 59. Student Amoriah Ramos was responsible for a stunning 135 pairs.
The final count has yet to be made, though it has been safely estimated at 450 pairs.
“It was really cool to see so many of our students get excited (about Socktober) and get behind it,” said Alain Douge, the school’s principal. “It’s something we emphasize: giving back.”
Infante is planning to round up the donated socks and deliver them to Talbot House Ministries within the next week or so. Although Florida isn’t known for harsh winters, the extra socks are a welcome contribution, said Chloe Allen, Talbot House’s volunteer coordinator.
“A lot of times we don’t realize the everyday things we have that other people don’t: simple things such as body wash or Q-tips or socks,” Allen said. “When we get cold we put on gloves or socks and we don’t think about it. Everyone wants to donate clothes or food, but the basics are just as important.”
“We’re just really grateful that they (LGMS students) are putting in this effort,” Allen said. “This is a great thing to instill in the younger generation early on so they can make an impact.”