October is going by a few different names this year including Socktober, Souptober and Soaptober.
Each alternate word for October represents items students in the Mt. Pleasant Community School District are bringing into their classrooms to donate to the Fellowship Cup at the end of the month. Mt. Pleasant High School, Lincoln Elementary and Harlan Elementary are bringing in toiletry items for Soaptober. Van Allen Elementary and Salem are stocking up on canned goods for Souptober, and the Mt. Pleasant Middle School is hosting a sock drive for Socktober.
“It gives the kids a sense of doing something for those less fortunate,” said Ashley Hoyer, fourth-grade teacher at Harlan Elementary and organizer of the October fundraising drive. “The kids are very excited. I’ve emphasized it’s part of our responsibility to be a good citizen, and part of that is helping those in need.”
Last year, Harlan Elementary partnered with Mt. Pleasant High School for Socktober, but this is the first year all the schools in the district are participating in the fundraising drive. Hoyer was inspired to launch Socktober by Kid President, a YouTube series that began in 2012. The first Socktober was in 2016 at Harlan.
Already, Hoyer’s classroom is piling up with toothbrushes, toothpaste and some body washes. Her kids are excited and she’s hoping to collect a lot more items before the month is up. “We’re going to have very clean teeth,” she said.
Last year, the schools collected over 1,000 pairs of socks, and the Fellowship Cup had to turn down part of the donation because they didn’t have room for all of them. A homeless shelter in Burlington was the recipient of the rest of the socks.
“I get excited any time I see the community coming together for anything, whether it’s drives, donations, cleaning up the community, it gets kids connected to serving,” Fellowship Cup Director Ken Brown said.
With the surplus of items the Fellowship Cup received last year, Brown is taking the month of October to make room for the supplies he is sure to receive at the end of the month. The socks the schools donated last year carried the Fellowship Cup through a whole year, with them handing out many of the socks this fall.
Brown hopes to see the same thing happen with food items and hygiene products donated this year. “People don’t have time to wait for a drive. If you get a cold front, you need to have things on hand,” he said.
While the Fellowship Cup was grateful for the donation of socks last year, Brown said what they really need is adult-sized socks. Everyone thinks about the little kids around the holidays and in the winter, but it’s teenagers and young adults who are left out.
“Let’s not neglect those age groups in this drive,” Brown said.
Similarly, feminine hygiene products are often neglected in fundraising drives, and it’s not something women ask for outright at the Fellowship Cup. Brown said if they can stock the shelves with feminine hygiene products, it will make it available, so people don’t have to ask for it or go without.
Seeing students in the district give so generously is a blessing for Brown, who says it builds hearts read to serve.
Michael Gossen, principal at Harlan Elementary, said this service fits nicely into their school acronym PRIDE, which includes practicing responsibility, respect and empathy. Holding fundraising drives teaches students to be aware of needs in the community and do what they can to meet those needs.
“Kids had a great response to Socktober last year, overwhelmingly so,” Gossen said. “For me, serving your community, your fellow neighbors, is the best way to stay positive.”
Anyone is invited to bring items to the schools or donate items directly to the Fellowship Cup.