“We long to provide the secure and comfortable feeling that putting on new pair of socks can give someone who feels lost or forgotten by this world.”— Theresa Tese
What holiday gifts made you smile this year? X-Box! PlayStation! Lionel Trains! Woo hoo! Socks and underwear? Whoops. Thank you, Aunt Vera. Growing up, the gift we used to laugh at was the inevitable gift of underwear, including socks, for the holidays. However, if you asked Theresa Tese what gifts she liked receiving most this year, it was socks—about 9,000 pairs of them, in fact.
The Shallotte, NC, resident began her quest for socks after she’d come home, in October, 2008, from worship at New Life Christian Fellowship in Supply. Therese had everything she could possibly want: loving husband, beautiful family, comfortable home, and yet, something was missing. It was a feeling, instilled in her by her parents, that you’re not really complete unless you’re giving back, involved.
New to the South Brunswick area, she didn’t know where to start her volunteer path. As she prayed, Tese turned to Bible scriptures that made her think about feet, many among the masses, walking for miles in the wilderness. Her mind next flashed to soldiers in battle, garbed in the same uniform for weeks at a time during combat. Then she thought of homeless men and women with ragged shoes and no socks for their feet. She remembered as a child how good it felt to come in from the cold, and put on a pair of freshly laundered socks. She felt warm, secure, safe. Suddenly, she said out loud, “SOCKS! That’s what I can do to help bring comfort to those in need.”
It seems like such a simple item, but the gift of socks has brought comfort to many across the country, who’ve been the recipients of Tese’s labor of love. That October, Theresa began her first sock drive. New Life’s pastor, Rev. Bobby Norton, and congregants welcomed the idea and began helping. They collected almost 500 pairs in 90 days.
Soon, Theresa also found willing supporters among area businesses, such as Angelo’s Pizzeria and Bistro and from Rick and Jan Noyes of Beach House Harley-Davidson. Her husband, Joe, used his talents at Tese Media, as a web designer and developer of Internet virtual tours, and www.comfortsocksonline.org was born. Son, Joseph Jr., created videos for YouTube to help spread the word. It’s really a family affair.
Brunswick County is noted for caring for, and about, all residents. Tese tells a story of a Comfort Socks volunteer at Angelo’s, who was waiting on a customer who had been gifted with a coupon for a free pizza. The customer was a man clearly down on his luck, but he appreciated greatly the chance for a rare taste treat. The waiter visited with the patron, and they exchanged pleasant conversation. Toward the end of the meal, the waiter asked, “would you by any chance like a new pair of socks?” Incredulously, the patron replied, “do you mean it?” and tears began streaming down his eyes. Upon receiving the socks, the gentleman said, “I can’t believe someone actually cares whether or not I have a new pair of socks.” That moment remains a memory for both men. Giving is receiving.
By November, 2009, Tese’s team had collected and bought 8,355 pairs of new socks. These were donated to homeless shelters from North Carolina to New York City, and from Encino, California to Key West Florida. Eighty percent of current requests are for men’s socks. Every sock is important; the preferred sock type is 100% cotton crew, low-cut or heavyweight socks in both men’s and women’s sizes. A signed agreement between any homeless shelter and Comfort Socks assures that the socks reach their intended recipients. A talented businesswoman, Tese has reached agreements with Fruit of the Loom for generous wholesale prices on new sock purchases. For just a $25 donation, Tese can make 50 pairs of new socks available. Theresa also notes that “Hanes, Walmart and Champion are very important sponsor-donors.” The need for new socks is ongoing, and Tese projects that she’d like to provide 2,000 pairs each month in the future.
Tese now receives calls from individuals and organizations wanting to help. One group is organizing a “car wash for socks,” with proceeds donated to Comfort Socks to purchase new women’s, men’s and children’s socks. An area elementary school is holding a week-long event, with everyone encouraged to bring new socks to school. The web masters of Google have watched the exciting growth of comfortsocksonline.org and recently awarded Tese a coveted AdWords grant to help people find her on the Internet.
It took one volunteer seeking inspiration to give back to her community to start a chain reaction of caring and giving that resulted in more than 9,000 pairs of socks being donated to the homeless in 2009. As you make your New Year’s resolutions for 2010, take a moment to think of the warmth and caring you could share with someone less fortunate. It’s as simple as a pair of socks, and it can mean the world to someone who has lost hope. Nationwide, principals and teachers can ask students to bring socks to the next school prom; Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops can get involved by contacting Tese. Not only are new socks welcomed, but so are cash and online credit card donations. All gifts to this 501©3 organization are tax-deductible.
The next time you think of putting your best foot forward, put a sock on it, then think of “Comfort Socks,” and if you’re so inclined, help those in need to know that someone is thinking of them. It’s a 100% cotton hug, the gift of socks. Thanks to one willing servant’s heart, thousands of lives of the homeless have been touched. Everyone can join in to make a difference. It all begins with the first steps, in new socks, walking the pathway to dignity.
Since the time I first spoke (Fall, 2009) with Therese Tese for South Brunswick Magazine (North Carolina) , her efforts have doubled and tripled, and so has her success in being able to find individuals and businesses who are anxious to participate in this endeavor.
Recently the Coastal Shag Group of Shallotte shared their love of dancing the shag (very popular in NC and SC) and collected 338 pairs of socks. This is just one sample of organizations jumping in to partiicpate in the Comfort Socks worthwhile endeavor.
From their latest newsletter, the Tese family is participating in the National Make a Difference Day, October 22nd. They are seeking new men's crew socks at the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, They "will have a booth at the CAMERON ART MUSEUM in Wilmington, NC; New Mens Crew Socks are sought." The next week, another of their boosters will be hosting "Trick or Treat, Comfort Feet," and invites the community of Southport, NC to bring new socks to 'treat the homeless'. Inspirational, enthusiastic, and a grass-roots effort that continues to grow stronger every day…that's an American profile that I hope to share with your readers.
To donate with socks or gifts to purchase socks, please contact Theresa Tese:
P. O. Box 477
Supply, NC 28462
Donate online, via Visa, Mastercard, Debit Card, or Online Check at
E-mail: [email protected]