How many teachers can say they don’t have to wear the same pair of socks from the first day of school in September until after Christmas?
Joe Koman, who has become well-known for his collection of fun socks, can.
So it’s no surprise the longtime kindergarten teacher who switched to teaching fourth grade this year is spearheading Nisswa School’s seventh Socktober sock drive.
Through October, students and others are encouraged to bring socks to school to donate. Koman and his daughters then deliver the boxes of socks the first week of November to the women’s shelter in Brainerd.
Last year, they delivered 907 pairs of socks to help those in need.
“When this first started, I was just beginning to get a reputation as a sock guy,” Koman said via email. “I had worn special socks around the holidays, and that really interested the kids at school. They were so entertained by it that socks became the go-to gift for me that year.”
Around that same time, Koman said his wife, Aubrey, saw Kid President on YouTube talk about the need for socks. Kid President was portrayed by American teen Robby Novak and gained a social media following.
“Shelters were getting other items of clothing donated, but there was a big need for socks,” Koman said. “Once she showed me the video, I knew we should do it.”
He checked with the local women's shelter and learned they needed socks, so they decided to fill that need.
“They have come to rely on us each year,” Koman said of the Mid-Minnesota Women’s Center. “They ration the donation to last until our next delivery.”
The first year, Nisswa School donated around 400 pairs of socks and it has grown every year since.
“Over the years friends of mine have sent socks. People with community ties, but no children in Nisswa School, have also donated in the past,” Koman said. “The coolest thing is how simple it is to do. Go shopping and add a pair of socks to the cart. So easy, sooooo helpful.”
Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.