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Lena Young, a nine-year-old from Highlands Ranch, doesn’t want toys for her upcoming birthday. She wants socks. And no, the socks aren’t for her. Lena is collecting the essential accessory as the youngest ambassador of Sock It To ‘Em Sock Campaign, a Colorado-based nonprofit that wants to get socks to those in need year-round.
Lena’s campaign started a few weeks ago with a goal of donating 300 pairs of socks to the nonprofit before her birthday. But as friends and family started filling her family’s air hockey table with pairs of all sizes and colors, the goal continued to stretch, nearing almost 1,300. “She realized she didn’t need anything for her birthday,” says Erin Young, Lena’s mother. “She brought up the idea for the sock party.”
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When her friends come over for the party during Labor Day weekend, Lena wants socks to be the star. The donated pairs will go to those in need, while partygoers will play games like sock races (think: potato sack races in giant homemade fabric socks).
This isn’t the first time Lena’s turned her birthday celebration into a giving event. Last year, the she chose to host a birthday bash with decorations made entirely of repurposed materials. Sure, she was helping the Earth, but she also wanted to impact people. With the help of her mom, Lena suggested that her friends bring personal care items to donate to the Delores Project, the largest provider of shelter and services for women and transgender individuals in Denver. When it came to creating a theme for this year, Lena looked to one of the most basic needs.
“Socks are such a simple need for everyone,” Lena says. “Plus, it’s just a really fun party theme.” The fifth-grader has been spending her weekends on the hunt for socks by sitting out in front of a local King Soopers, where she was recently joined by Mrs. Colorado, Erica Shields. Shields also has set a goal of collecting 50,000 pairs for the organization by this month. With socks as the number one need for homeless individuals, including kids and babies, the more people gathering them, the better.
When you think about how helping a person can make a difference, Lena says Sock It To ‘Em’s co-founder Susan Lee said it best: “When you give someone in need a pair of socks, you’re saying ‘I see you.’”