March 12, 2007

Socks beat feet from Howard Lake to Texas

More than 600 pair of socks were hand delivered to needy children

By Jennifer Gallus
Staff Writer

As part of an ongoing collection drive that began last fall at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Howard Lake, Carol Sideen hand delivered more than 600 socks to needy children in Texas.

The drive was inspired by Wee Care We Share of Annandale. The nonprofit organization collects and distributes clothing and household items to the Minneapolis inner city and to southern states.

Southern states are targeted due to the concentration of poverty along the US border with Mexico, according to Wee Care We Share.

Sideen’s friend, Tami Bangasser, of Annandale introduced her to the efforts of the organization and introduced the organization to their church, St. John’s Lutheran in Howard Lake.

Last fall, the sunday school from St. John’s Lutheran Church donated shoes, clothes, and school supplies for Runn Elementary School in Donna, Texas, which was initiated by Bangasser.

Runn Elementary sustained significant storm damage last year and was made a recipient for donations from Wee Care We Share.

Sideen, being a first grade teacher for 35 years before retiring, collected a large amount of school supplies for Runn Elementary for the fall drive.

It’s a small world

The name of the pastor who works in the Donna, Texas area and with the school, Gene Hasselquist, sounded familiar to Sideen.

It turned out that Hasselquist is the retired pastor of a church in Sideen’s hometown of Red Wing, and who renewed Sideen’s parents’ wedding vows several years ago.

Sideen spoke with Hasselquist on the phone and told him that she planned on visiting her father, who currently lives in Texas, and would be willing to bring supplies to the school.

“What they really appreciate the most is socks. The kids sit down in the gymnasium, put them on, and are just beaming. They like socks more than even candy or treats,” Hasselquist told Sideen.

In exchange for bringing the socks, Sideen asked if she could get a tour of the school, which was accepted.

“I was excited. Two thirds of my luggage was socks of all sizes,” Sideen laughed.

“I thought it was a good chance to visit my father and do this good deed. People have been very generous,” Sideen said.

The school has a “free store,” in part of the building that wasn’t damaged by the storm. The store is part of an organization called The Sharing Place.

Only parents of children who attend the school are allowed to shop in the free store that carries both adult and children’s clothing and shoes, Sideen explained.

“Parents even have access to free business wear clothing,” Sideen said.

Socks keep coming in

Now that Sideen has returned home, she is still receiving miscellaneous sock donations, which will be boxed up in the next couple weeks and mailed to the elementary school.

“It’s a little something we can do to make things easier on the less fortunate,” Sideen said.

Sideen mentioned that if people are looking to donate to Wee Care We Share, “you know where it’s going.”

Wee Care We Share sends one or two truckloads per year to The Sharing Place.

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