New Socks Fill a Huge Need for Those Experiencing Homelessness in the Omaha Metro

Jan 18, 2022

Members of Hope Presbyterian Church in Omaha and their pastor, Rev. Mike Geiler, recently gave new meaning to the phrase “sock it to him” when they enthusiastically participated in Sock Sunday to benefit The Salvation Army’s Winter Night Watch program.

Congregants collected dozens of packages of socks during the weeks leading up to the highly anticipated event and then had a blast pelting Pastor Geiler with the socks at a specified time during Sunday worship service. When he wasn’t taking cover from the bombardment, Pastor Geiler retaliated by lobbing socks back at his attackers.

“Sock Sunday was really for the youth, but there were definitely some adults who got into it as well,” said Kathy Andersen, who organizes Hope Presbyterian’s Winter Night Watch volunteer efforts each year.

In total, Hope Presbyterian donated seven large bags of new socks, plus dozens of jackets, hats, gloves and scarves to The Salvation Army to be distributed via the Winter Night Watch program this winter.

Andersen added that Sock Sunday was a lighthearted way to encourage members to get involved with the church’s mission to support those in need in the community. In addition to serving at the Open Door Mission and Siena Francis House, members of Hope Presbyterian have volunteered with The Salvation Army’s Winter Night Watch program since the late 1990s.

“We noticed socks were one of the items most requested by those in need on our stops around the city,” said Andersen. “That’s how Sock Sunday was born.”

Research bears out Andersen’s observation. Homeless shelters around the country report that new socks are among the least donated but most requested items.

In addition to serving hot meals, Winter Night Watch volunteers also distribute winter coats, hats, gloves, socks and blankets to individuals and families who stop by the food trucks. Depending on the weather, at the height of the winter season as many as 400 individuals per night stop by the food trucks for a hot meal.

Last year Winter Night Watch provided more than 9,000 meals and hundreds of winter outerwear items between December and early March.

For more information about Winter Night Watch or to volunteer for a shift (more volunteers are still needed for this season!), please visit the program webpage.

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