Milwaukee Labor Sock Drive Secures Record 2,000 Pairs
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United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Milwaukee Labor Sock Drive Secures Record 2,000 Pairs

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December 1, 2015

By Meghan Marsden Parsche, United Way Volunteer

Imagine not having the basic comfort of a pair of warm, clean socks. For many people in our area, new socks are more of a luxury than a basic needs item. In fact, new socks are one of the most requested items from local homeless shelters. This need inspired employees at the Milwaukee Area Labor Council to partner with the Waukesha County Labor council and United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County to organize a sock drive this fall – an effort that was a huge success.

“I think because they are such a basic need that many of us take for granted, the sock drive really resonated with our members,” says Jay Reinke, an employee of the Milwaukee Area Labor Council and coordinator of the sock drive.

According to volunteers who work with the homeless or underprivileged, wearing worn out socks or going without any at all can lead to extensive foot problems, which can impact the overall health and ability for that individual to seek assistance. The need is especially high among children, which is why Jay and his colleagues Mike Balistriere, Annie Wacker and Kurt Schmidt decided to focus on collecting socks for youth. In total, the sock drive collected 2,034 pairs, 700 of those are for children.

Jay spoke with a representative with the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association, who told him about the large number of children who do not consistently have socks to wear to school. With the comfort new socks could offer, she said, these kids could better focus on learning. “I can’t wait to see her face at drop off when I tell her we collected 700 pairs,” says Jay.

Jay and his colleagues were blown away by the enthusiasm and level of support received from member groups. Over one fourth of the total socks collected came from just one member, Badger Meter, which collected 570 pairs. Jay points to the success of Badger Meter’s collection as a great example of how salaried and union employees can come together and partner with United Way to make a difference in the community.

The drive was such a success Jay had to keep extending the deadline for collection as more and more socks came pouring in.

“This was an amazing experience,” says Jay, “It reminded me there is an incredible, generous spirit among the people who live in Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties.”

Get Involved

  • Contact Lori Hayes at 262.409.2406 or via email to organize a supply drive
  • Milwaukee Area Labor Council is hosting a blanket drive January 11 through January 30, 2016. For more information contact Jay Reinke.

Meghan Marsden Parsche is a proud United Way supporter, stay at home mom to her three young children, and volunteer writer for UWGMWC.

Meghan enjoys telling the stories of the programs and people making a positive impact on our community.

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