By Ann Bryant, Staff Writer
FARMINGTON/JAY — A class project provided 1,156 socks to children in Head Starts in Jay and Gardiner.
The Sock Drive was designed by Cynthia Kaherl of Jay and Kelly Lamoreau of Gardiner, both students in an “Interventions for Families with Children” class at the University of Maine at Augusta.
Kaherl who works for Upward Bound at the University of Maine at Farmington takes the course online and is working on a Bachelor of Science degree in Mental Health Human Services, she said.
Professor Patricia Clark assigned an advocacy project to help children and families in the state, she said.
After looking at some of Clark’s suggestions and an idea posted by her classmate, Lamoreau, Kaherl suggested the two partner on the project.
“Socks are an important thing here in Maine,” she said.
She found others projects online designed to furnish socks for people, especially those in homeless shelters.
The classmates created a Sock Drive to benefit Head Start and sought donations from businesses in their areas throughout the month of October.
Kaherl delivered boxes of socks to the Jay Early Learning Center last week, Heidi Gray, center director, said.
Sometimes, children, likely trying to dress themselves, come without socks, she said. Sometimes, they get their shoes and socks wet while on the playground and while parents usually send an extra set of clothes, socks can be overlooked.
“Parents were thankful and happy,” she said of the gift of 25-30 pair of socks for each of the 26 children in the center. “Some kids are already wearing their new socks.”
Kaherl included socks for the teachers in the donation. A pamphlet with a sock ode, some craft ideas and other sock information was included in each box, Kaherl said. She hoped parents and children would read them together.
The center has a large collection of socks, about 180 left over, and ready for any new students or to use when an extra pair is needed, she said.
There were about 50 children in the Gardiner Head Start so her partner gave fewer socks to each child.
Kaherl also donated books to the Jay Early Learning Center, Gray said.
Kaherl took a poster around to area businesses asking the public to donate socks. She then met with Gray who had some suggestions for places to set up a collection basket.
Members of Fitness Stylz in Livermore Falls were very generous and filled a basket with socks, she said.
Baskets at Otis Federal Credit Union and the elementary school, also brought in socks. Riverside Kwik Stop and Hannaford’s in Jay gave money for Kaherl to go purchase socks, she said.
Co-workers and people on the UMF campus responded as did friends and family members.
Parents and teachers at the Jay Early Learning Center also contributed, Gray said. The center, a part of Child Services at Community Concepts, serves children, prenatal to four years, she said.
“It was a learning experience,” Kaherl said about advocating for the children.
As she prepared to pass in her project Wednesday, she said she learned to not take it personally when businesses were not excited about another poster, another project. They are besieged with great projects all the time, she said.
She also found that networking and involving other people like Gray was beneficial and provided some successful ideas.
There are other options for clothing, pants and shirts, available to help parents and children, but socks are always missed, Gray said.