As shoppers rush to stores throughout the area to pick up those last-minute gifts, a senior at Diller-Odell High School is asking people to make a short stop in the clothing department as well.
For the fourth year, Amie Engelman of Diller is collecting men’s and women’s socks for the People’s City Mission in Lincoln in a program she has called “Sock It to the Homeless.”
Engelman explained she got the idea after she and her parents, Dean and Ann Engelman, delivered some old clothes to the People’s City Mission when she was 14 years old.
Looking for a community service project to do through the Happy Harbiners 4-H Club, Engelman started talking to a representative of the mission who told her socks are a much-requested item during the winter when many homeless people are forced to sleep outdoors in cold temperatures.
“I was looking for a service project and this just seemed like a good one to do,” Engelman said. “Socks are something that everybody wears and they are easier for people to go out and buy than other types of clothing.”
Starting the project in 2004, Engelman established collection sites at the Diller-Odell High School in Odell, the elementary school in Diller and at the Ellis United Methodist Church, which Engelman and her parents attend.
Since that time, she has added collection sites at the Gage County Extension Office in Beatrice and the Jefferson County Extension Office in Fairbury and has also set up a booth at the Jefferson County Fair.
With the exception of her booth at the Jefferson County Fair, Engelman said she has always tried to have the sock drive during December and continuing over the holiday break in order to give teachers and students an opportunity to get to the store to buy new socks. This year, the program began Dec. 10 and will continue until Jan. 5. Engelman will then transporting the socks to the mission sometime in January.
Engelman added while the Diller-Odell school district began its holiday break Dec. 21, she said she hopes she will be busy answering the phone at her house and picking up socks from residences in Gage and Jefferson counties.
While Engelman said the sock drive was originally started as a 4-H community service project, she chose to continue collecting socks throughout her years in high school after witnessing firsthand the difference her project has made at the mission.
“When I take the socks to Lincoln every year, there are often homeless people sitting in the office when I get there,” Engelman said. “Just knowing that they are going to be the recipients and it will help them just makes me smile. The people who work at the mission appreciate it as well. I have just always like helping people.”
Because Engelman is a senior, she said she wants to collect more socks than ever in this year’s drive, setting a goal of 450 pairs after 403 pairs were gathered last year.
However, even though this will be Engelman’s last year attending Diller-Odell High School, she is unsure whether this will necessarily be the end of the drive.
Noting she plans to attend Southeast Community College in Beatrice next year, she said she may set up the sites in the same locations or even start the tradition on the SCC campus.
“I will be relatively close to the school next year, so it’s always a possibility,” Engelman said. “I would hope to be able to continue this in some way. Because this may be the last year, I’m hoping this will be the biggest year yet.”
Anyone wishing to make a donation to the sock drive may call Engelman at (402) 754-4611 to arrange a pickup time.