STAMFORD, Conn. -- When Mason Perkins, a seventh-grader at Turn of River Middle School in Stamford, was planning her 12th birthday last November, she decided to follow the trend of several of her friends and collect donations for a charity instead of gifts.
Mason decided to collect socks for people who are less fortunate. Her inspiration came from her mother, a social worker overseeing an emergency housing program for homeless families in Westchester County, N.Y., who had shared how thrilled she was that her program received donations from a program called Sox Warm Hearts, which started in California.
The Stamford girl connected with Diana David, the Westchester ambassador for Sox Warm Hearts, and McKenna Matranga, its West Coast founder, to organize her donation.
"Inspired by another young person 3,000 miles away, Mason became an Ambassador of Sox Warm Hearts," a press release said. "Mason chose New Covenant House of Hospitality, the only soup kitchen in lower Fairfield County as her recipient."
The 11 girls at her sleepover thought the idea was fun and collected 155 pairs of socks. Her grandparents and neighbors also showed up with more wrapped gifts of socks.
On Dec. 14, McKenna flew in from California to distribute Mason’s 215 pairs of birthday socks with her and Diana at New Covenant House of Hospitality in Stamford.
"That day was also the one year anniversary of the shooting at Newtown and named a Day of Kindness," a press release said. "It was snowing, and there was already 4 inches of snow on the ground. The men and women were grateful and gracious for clean, dry, new socks. One gentleman was wearing boots with holes in them and had no socks. All three ambassadors were in tears seeing how very important their mission is."
But the Stamford middle-schooler did not stop there. The sock drive was such a success that she wanted to do more.
In awe of the need for socks, Mason attended TOR’s Student Council meeting the next week. She gave a presentation on Sox Warm Hearts and requested that the school run a sock drive.
The vote was a unanimous yes. The Student Council members decorated boxes for each homeroom and ran the sock drive through Jan. 28.
A total of 650 pairs of socks were collected by the students -- more than its goal of 600 and enough to win a schoolwide pajama day on Jan. 31.
Mason had also reached out to Fleet Feet Sports of Stamford owner Troy Burk in mid-January, who offered his store as a Sox Warm Hearts collection site to gather even more socks.
Sox Warm Hearts founder Matranga, an 18-year-old high school senior, has a goal of distributing 10,000 pairs of socks to those in need. When doing research, Matranga said he found that socks are often forgotten when people donate clothing and shoes to the poor. Additional research showed that many foot problems can be attributed to the underserved having shoes but no socks.
For more information or to help with the sock collection can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 949-380-9400.