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Volunteers work to bring veterans gifts

It’s not just socks anymore. From humble beginnings six years ago, Socks for Heroes Mississippi has been collecting an abundance of necessary items for veterans homes across Mississippi and Louisiana.

Socks for Heroes Mississippi is not affiliated with a similarly named organization operating out of California that provides socks to deployed veterans. Instead, they work with local veterans’ homes to provide their residents with clothes and other necessities.

They do still collect socks — non-slip socks are in particular demand. They also need slippers for men and women, pajama pants, sweat pants, sweat shirts and white T-shirts from large to 3X.

In Louisiana, where Socks for Heroes co-founder Cathy Stroud says regulations are more relaxed, they can also provide items like bars of soap, body wash and men’s cologne.

Because of health concerns, all donations should be new and unopened. In Brookhaven, drop-off boxes are at Bank of Brookhaven and Picket Fences. There are also boxes at Another Time Another Place in Wesson and one at the Hazlehurst City Hall.

Stroud founded Socks for Heroes Mississippi with her friend Tanya Jenkins.

“We decided we didn’t need anything for Christmas one year, and we were looking for a cause,” Stroud said. “We wanted something local — something we could see working.”

At first, Stroud said their idea was to donate money to local veterans homes, but the only way to donate money would be to send money to Jackson and have the Jackson office determine how to allocate the funds. Instead, Stroud said the group decided to work directly with the veterans homes to determine what items were needed most. The first home they talked to requested socks, and the name stuck.

“It was 150 units in that particular home,” Stroud said. “So I called my friend. She said, ‘How in the world am I going to get 150 pairs of socks?’”

They were determined, though, and they did manage to donate those socks, and they never stopped collecting donations for veterans homes. Over time, the requests and the number of homes has grown.

“Last year, we covered the four homes in Mississippi and the five in Louisiana,” Stroud said. “So we’ve come a long way.”

Socks for Heroes MS is a hard working bunch, according to Stroud, with a core group of 12 volunteer women, along with their husbands, working year round to collect funds or items.

“They’re an awesome bunch of ladies,” Stroud said. “And men, because we do drag our husbands into it.”

They also have a packing day once a year. On Dec. 7 at the American Legion in Wesson, volunteers will be packing up the items they’ve collected and purchased throughout the year. It starts at 10 a.m. and everyone is welcome to volunteer. They’ll also be signing Christmas cards for the veterans.

“That’s something I really ask everybody,” Stroud said. “That fact that someone took the time to sign it and maybe leave a note, that means a lot more.”

To get an up-to-date list of needed items, or for other inquiries, Socks for Heroes MS can be reached at 601-695-4140, socksforheroes@yahoo.com or facebook.com/socksforheroes.ms.