UPDATE: The McKinney Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, led by Michael Dodson, completed the annual Socks for Seniors. The team broke their record, reached beyond this year's goal and collected 690 pairs of socks. Volunteers of Collin County Committee on Aging, Meals on Wheels and Senior Services have already started delivering the socks to area individuals in need.
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The goal is to raise 500 pairs of new socks that will be given to needy seniors just in time for the holidays – and the cold weather. Socks will be accepted through Nov. 29 and can be brought to the Chamber offices, the weekly LINKS networking meeting at Saltgrass Steak House, and also through several of the Ambassadors’ business locations. Click here for a list of the Ambassadors on the McKinney Chamber of Commerce website.
Michael Dodson of Ink & Toner Texas leads up the effort. The first year collection was 250 pairs, and last year the total rose to 400. “We accept socks for men and women. Everyone could us a new pair of socks,” he said.
The Socks for Seniors donation from 2012.
The idea of the promotion was spawned from a ribbon cutting event at the Meals on Wheels location. Dodson said he learned that for many seniors, the Meals on Wheels person is the only one they will regularly see.
“When I was chair of the Chamber Ambassadors, the event began, and next thing I knew, people started bringing me socks,” Dodson said.
Barbra Dutton of Branded Floors Inc. joined Dodson last year to deliver the donations and said, “A lot of these seniors, they don’t have anybody. They look forward to the Meals on Wheels person each time, and the socks are a bonus. It makes them cry; it’s very moving.”
Ambassadors will gladly pick up donations to make it more convenient. They have been gathering socks since last year’s promotion and are excited to see the success of this year’s program.
Longtime Ambassador Steve Hubbard with Keller Williams Realty McKinney said his business is also a drop-off location. “We want to get at least one pair to every senior in need,” he said. “I help deliver Meals on Wheels. I am out there and I see their needs. You see what they wear and where they live and it’s sad. Every effort like this goes a long ways.”
New Ambassador Vito Calianno of Evolve Hair Studio strongly supports the promotion.
“I just found out about it this year and I want to be involved,” he said. “I sent out an email to my clients about the program. We have a personal goal of 200 pairs. We’ll see how lucky we get. You have a lot of folks who can’t get around or get out, so a new pair of warm socks is a nice gift.”
So what kind of socks are preferred? Dutton and Hubbard both suggest socks with traction on the bottom. “The best socks are the ones with the little grip on the bottom to help the seniors keep steady,” said Hubbard. “But all kinds are accepted.”
Chamber Ambassadors (from left), Michael Dodson, Steve Hubbard, Barbra Dutton and Cheryl O'Hagan with the socks delivery from 2012.
At Meals on Wheels, Zella Tyson, Director of Senior Services, said the gift is like a trip down memory lane.
“They are like kids again, it takes them back to their childhood and the excitement of opening a gift,” she said. “When they receive a gift, sometimes it’s overwhelming to them, since many of them were successful in their earlier lives and were used to being the givers instead of the receivers.”
Dodson reports he has over 160 pairs in a wide – and wild – variety of styles. “I was in Target the other day and they had a lot of crazy socks,” he said. “They were on markdown, significantly. The sales lady said they just didn’t sell. I told her I would buy them all if they sold them to me at $1 each. And they did.”
McKinney is made up of generous citizens, with several programs and locations to aid those in need, while the focus is often on children, Dodson said seniors need help, too.
Tyson adds that the seniors “do tend to be a forgotten group. They are extremely grateful, surprised that someone thought of them. Sometimes we are the only ones giving them a gift.”
Tyson adds: “It’s more than a gift, it’s thinking of their health and quality of life.”
Donations will be accepted through Friday, Nov. 29. Dodson said the Meals on Wheels groups want to have the gifts by the first week of December.