MATTOON -- Williams Elementary School had a goal to collect 250 socks for "Socktober," a local sock drive during the month of October. School officials learned early on, though, that their goal would be exceeded in a short time.

Brooke Kinnaman, Williams drive organizer, said the school teachers, staff, students and even Eastern Illinois University student tutors in the school had donated more than 1,900 socks by the end of the drive.

"It was just incredible," she said.

Kinnaman said the school community was all in the entire way through. 500, 750, 1000. The goal kept getting raised and exceed, Kinnaman said.

As a reward for the donation efforts, students were rewarded with a 50's-style sock hop dance during P.E. That day, they learned dances from that era. Some students even embodied the decade. Kinnaman mentioned some students coming in poodle skirts.

Kinnaman said the drive itself was surprising and humbling. The drive really connected with students, she said. The sock drive bins were placed at the entrance to the building and often she would hear students getting excited as the piles of socks grew.

The majority of socks were children's socks, but the pile included all sizes. All of the socks were donated to One Stop Community Christmas.

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One Stop Community Christmas is an effort by local civic groups, schools, businesses, aid organizations, churches, sororities, health care providers and others to provide support for the entire family during the holidays.

The year's local sock drive was successful on all fronts. Eastern Illinois University and the Mattoon Middle School also participated in Socktober; and in both cases, the goals were exceeded.

"We had over 400 pairs of socks," said Beth Gillespie, director of EIU's Civic Engagement and Volunteerism Office. "It was a great year with loads of support from people both on and off campus."

Those organizing the EIU drive were hoping to have over 150 pairs of socks, Gillespie said. They collected over the course of October but collected a lot during the EIU Homecoming Parade. All of the donations will go to community organizations like One Stop to distribute to those in need locally.

The middle school collected 308 pairs of socks. Blair Dosch, seventh-grade science teacher and middle school drive organizer, said their initial goal was 200. Dash said 74 pairs were collected during a basketball game promotion allowing attendees to donate a pair of socks instead of paying for a ticket in.

Dosch said the drive started off slow but ramped up later in the month as more school organizations got involved. She said it was a really cool experience for the students. For her, it was special seeing kids show interest in helping those in need in some way.

Half of the sock donations, as well as $70 collected in the drive, will go to One Stop and the other half of the socks will go to the Haven, formerly known as Mattoon P.A.D.S.

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Contact Jarad Jarmon at (217) 238-6839. Follow him on Twitter: @JJarmonReporter



Jarad Jarmon is a reporter for the JG-TC. He covers the city of Charleston, Eastern Illinois University, Mattoon schools and the Regional Office of Education.

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