This year has sped by with several important changes that have challenged our Board of Directors. The first concern was our discovery that many of our socks that are shipped or carried abroad are not reaching their destinations and despite extra security measures, are being sold commercially in these developing countries in their original Chinese take-out decorated containers. We have been told that the reasons for this thievery comes from the fact that the intermediaries who intercept our socks think that the hand decorated packaging is so cute and unique, that these socks and their boxes are very sell-able. This result has cause meeting after meeting by our Board of Directors and team leaders to determine an alternate means of delivery.
Our first idea was that since so many mothers of volunteers are very good seamstresses, that we try and ship our new pairs of socks without the decorated boxes and simply ship them in nondescript plain cotton bags that have handles on them or banding on them so that they can also be carried on the heads of many of the native people to whom we ship our socks, who are used to transporting large items on the top of their heads.
Our premise is that as we ship these items into various ports, we do anything we can to draw attention away from what we are shipping so that there is less theft and thievery by those who are working at the various ports throughout Asia, Africa, and South America.
For example, we are still blessed to have certain discreet personnel from the Navy ship our socks aboard Navy jets heading to Afghanistan so that the children in the orphanages and schools there that we support can receive our socks. Generally, in the past, we have put all the new socks in cartons, and sometimes we have left them in their special decorated boxes. Sometimes, as well, we have shipped the socks in plain brown cartons that resemble navy supply boxes. If it turns out that Navy personnel cannot personally deliver our socks, a good portion of the time we have to rely on agents of the schools and orphanages to personally deliver the socks. Often times, for reasons upon which we can only speculate, our deliveries have not made their destination.
Another example is what has occurred In Conakry, Guinea, on the west coast of Africa where we have tried to ship socks to people high up in the mountains who were or have been struck ill from the terrible disease of Ebola. After shipping almost a thousand pair of socks to Guinea, we were told that some of our recipients from our last shipment before this particular one, saw our socks for sale in local markets all over the capital city. Even more disappointing, the socks were being sold on the black market there for three to four times their actual cost—for sometimes as much as twenty dollars for a simple pair of white socks.
Obviously, our Team Leaders and Board of Directors have to come up with the solution to stop this pilfering world wide. We have been told that it is a common problem that all non-profits face but it is both a challenging problem and a sad and disappointing problem as well. We strongly feel it is one thing if desperate people steal our socks because they badly need them. It is quite another problem if people are taking them for the sole purpose of reselling them to make a profit from the poor people who need them in the first place.
Another important topic raised during our last Board of Directors’ meeting has to do with the focus and direction that our non-profit takes year after year. Everyone who has volunteered at Sox In A Box since 2001 knows that we try and focus on a major foreign country that has experienced the most challenges during the particular year in question. It goes without saying that our primary focus will always be the United States first and foremost, as we have shown by our continued attempts to start new sock drives at major colleges and universities though out the country…not counting the volunteer sock drives started at many middle schools and high schools all over our amazing country. In addition, because San Diego always has been the main hub of our organization and is almost a springboard into Mexico because of its proximity to the Mexican border, there is no question that we have been able to target and most benefit the orphanages, ranches, and centers of poverty stricken people that are scattered in Baja California and northern Mexico near Houston because they are needy areas closest to us.
However, this past year, 2016 has been all about helping the poor people of Syria who are living in war torn conditions, sometimes in camps, sometimes without any food or shelter for days. The weather can be bitingly cold desert like conditions and the mountains in Syria near its coast can be treacherous to transverse. Even in the major villages and towns, people are going without food, medical care, places to sleep, and are scared to walk the streets because of the bombing and killing of innocent people that are taking place on a daily basis. Because of this adversity, our Board of Directors voted to release our socks in bags and send them directly to the Red Cross and United Nations in hopes that they will reach anyone in need. We have been fortunate this year to locate several students from Syria who have helped us translate all the letters of good will that our middle school and high school kids have written. Each pair of socks that we sent out this year was accompanied by letters of hope and wishes that we pray will have reached the people of Syria who are suffering greatly from one of the world’s greatest examples of annihilation and human suffering.
I want to take this time to salute the hundreds of people, young and old, who came out to help up this year and all the young children in middle school and high school who collected socks and decorated our boxes. You are the sweetest of God’s children and you are the reason why our country will continue to flourish despite its many challenges and obstacles. To all the churches and religious entities who have conducted sock drives on our behalf and written the sweetest letters of hope imaginable, please know that God will always shine his light on you all because you are truly God’s special children. You all are also an enormous testament to the fact that there is nothing that we can’t accomplish when we all work together for the good of mankind. To our team leaders, our teams, and to even the kids and parents that have come out only once or twice this year to help, it takes a village and without you all helping out in a hundred different ways, please know that we could not survive without your contributions of time and effort; your novel ideas; your positive attitudes and amazing spirit; your laughter and joy; and the countless hours that you gave us when you could be out enjoying yourselves or doing something important for yourself or your family.
For those of you who contributed thousands of pairs of new socks to our organization, words cannot properly express what your generosity has contributed to thousands of people in need all over the world. If we are to stop the inhumanity and the suffering in this world whether from the evils of war or from the natural disasters of the world stemming from earthquakes, fires, tsunamis, hurricanes, and tornadoes, if we all are willing to band together regardless of our different backgrounds, we can find the ways and means to make better the lives of people of the thousands upon thousands of people in this world who have so little compared to us.
Our focus for 2017 and beyond will be finding ways that we can not only send socks to people in need but also send and include protein bars or other transportable types of food that will give needy people something to eat for at least several days at a time. We will also hope to partner with organizations that will help us advance the idea of sustainability, that is, that people in the remote regions of the world will be taught to weave their own socks and clothes and grow their own food so that lack of warmth in freezing temperatures and hunger in their starving bellies that causes terrible suffering and malnutrition will become relics of the distant past.
All the teams at Sox In A Box join me in wishing you all a safe, healthy, joyous, and exciting New Year!
Love and laughter to all!
Hi everyone! Once again, we are Kara and Carlos and we are the correspondents taking over for Dani Marco to share with you the news of everything going on at Sox In A Box.
The biggest news that we have to share with you for anyone who regularly looks at our website is that our webmaster, GO Daddy, inadvertently lost half of our website and valuable photos in some sort of clean up/inspection mishap. We have tired to retrieve some of the information but sadly, some of our most meaningful photographs of our recipients in Africa and Asia are lost forever. Also, for all of you who came out for the big photograph of all of our volunteers, that photo has been lost and we are looking for anyone who also has a photo of all of us standing outside our offices or at the restaurant. We are looking also for the photo of our founder, Dani, talking to the mayor of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. We are also trying to locate any extra photos of the ones we took after Super Storm Sandy especially the ones of the cute doggies that we brought to the local animal shelters. Let us know if any of you have any extra photos sitting round. We also want to do biographies on some of our hardest workers. If you are brave enough to volunteer to be interviewed for our updates, please contact us through Dani’s website that is listed below.
Our biggest surprise of the year was a visit by a Japanese contingent of people who came from the northeast side of Honshu, the main island of Japan that was struck by a terrible 9.0 earthquake and the resulting tsunami that injured so many people, resulted in over 15,000 people to lose their lives, and caused over 200,000 people to lose their homes back on March 11, 2011. Many of you will remember the urgency we experienced in getting out socks to them because so many of their belongings were swept away or flooded by all the water. A good friend of one of our volunteers, Kazue, knew key people in Honshu on the east side of the island and we were able to send five thousand pair of socks almost immediately although some of our volunteers were up several nights running to do so. Unfortunately, Dani collecting socks at a school when the Japanese delegation showed up unexpectedly but they came on our Valentine’s Day with red paper hearts that they had personally cut out and made and they hung them all over our office to express their thanks for helping them in time of crisis. Fortunately, Kazue was there and able to translate and we had tea on hand that they claimed they really liked. So all went well. Our visitors shared with us that still, life is not back to normal on Honshu and many survivors of the tragedy have not been able to get on with their lives because of the loved ones and homes that they lost during this terrible experience. They told us that still many people, years later, are still living in temporary housing. They shared with us that the wet mud was over everything at the time and that our socks helped them stay dry and warm which they really appreciated. They told us that Japan is prone to earthquakes and that they have learned to live day by day and be grateful for the life they have because the future is always uncertain if one lives in Japan. All of our volunteers who were there expressed admiration over Japan’s resiliency and their country’s ability to take care of their own because we haven’t seen that happen in so many of the developing countries that we support in times of crisis.
Finally, we want to address this year the increasing problem of homelessness in our cities of San Diego and Houston and the steps that Sox In A Box is taking to reach out to people in need. In Houston, we have made friends and found a deep connection to the Baptist churches throughout the city. Mrs. Naomi Bensen and Ms. Carla Walters along with Ella Sanders and Gregory Smith and their moms have spearheaded collection drives at their various churches and we owe them our deep and overwhelming gratitude for putting hours into the sock drives at their congregations. The City of Houston Police Department have alerted our teams to the parts of the city where college students from Rice University can safely deliver our socks to the shelters in Houston. This year we have seen a tremendous amount of rain and flooding that have hampered our deliveries but next year we pray that Houston will be able to address the increasing need to build more homeless shelters throughout the greater Houston area to accommodate the growing numbers of people who are hungry and have no where to stay during the cold winter months.
In San Diego, almost every trip downtown results in a sad vision of the homeless just sitting on sleeping bags (if they are lucky) and meandering all over K Street and other nearby locations. Our donation of new pairs of socks to these people and to places like Father Joe’s Villlage where President and CEO Deacon Jim Vargas helps all these poor people try and live better lives have made our Sox volunteers feel extremely gratified over our hard work to help them. This past year we have been able to band with our local Salvation Army and pass out socks at the same time the Salvation Army is handing out needed toiletries. During the last two months of holiday season where the temperatures have dropped, we have made our socks available to homeless people who use various soup kitchens like the Hunger Project, Food Bank, and Bread of Life, and shelters in the various suburbs throughout San Diego.
Next year, we are thinking of attaching our new pairs of socks to every blanket that is handed out to the homeless in San Diego. If they can take off their shoes and lie under a warm blanket every night in a shelter, using a new pair of socks as slippers, we will feel that we are helping these needy people in some way.
One of the most important aspects of dealing with the homeless people in San Diego and throughout our United States is a topic that concerns our founder, Danielle Marco greatly—that of the terrible malnutrition that is experienced by an overwhelming amount of poor people that we are trying to help. None of these people on the streets and many of the young children to whom we send our socks are eating properly or sufficiently. When Dani visits orphanages in areas of Mexico that are less than forty to fifty miles in distance from San Diego, she is shocked by the number of people who literally are struggling to eat even one meal a day. Sometimes when Dani leads a group of volunteers and heads for Tijuana with protein bars, nuts, and fruit for everyone, they are taken away from her at the Border crossing. Even if she travels with several adults and caravans of cars, the border police in Tijuana will not let her continue unless she gives them a tip called a “propina” in Spanish. It is a very disheartening experience.
For everyone or anyone that wants to fight hunger worldwide, she is recommending that they contribute to various non-profit institutions including: 1. Heifer International, an organization that buys animals for villages all over the world to enable them to have the milk from cows and goats, proteins from pigs, and sheep to provide warm winter clothing; 2. Vision Trust that provides either protein rich meals fore children or chickens to farm for their eggs or meat; and finally Samaritan’s Purse, that will use your donation to nourish mothers, infants, and children for only $7 a week (828)262-1980,
On October 29, 2012, the United States experienced one of the worst natural disasters in its history in the form of a devastating hurricane that worked its way up the seaboard of the Atlantic Coast, causing havoc and massive destruction across major population centers of our country. This most horrendous of hurricanes and one of the most major rain storms that our country has ever experienced, became known as “Superstorm Sandy”.
I have seen the aftermath of an earthquake in Turkey in which ten thousand people lost their lives. I personally saw the massive disaster in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. In 2008, I also was a student in Houston, Texas, and also personally experienced the hurricane called Ike that impacted much of the southeast part of Texas where I was living. However, nothing that I have ever seen prepared me for the terrible chaos and great despair that my Sox cohorts and I experienced during our trip to the East Coast following Superstorm Sandy’s path of horrific destruction.
Superstorm Sandy was uniquely different from any other natural disasters and emergencies to which Sox In A Box has responded over the years. Never in the history of our charity did we need to respond to so many emails and telephone calls in the space of a short period as we did with Superstorm Sandy. While in retrospect, the reasons seem clear: 1.) the disaster included the heart of New York City, one of the most important cities in the world where communication capabiliies are at their highest; 2.)capable responders such as our own organization on the other side of the country, had not been affected, and could proceed to provide aid at the very highest levels; and 3.)there is no place in the world like the U.S. providing aid to those in need and 4.)relief agencies such as ours, are trained for emergency situations.
Nevertheless, since communication was poor despite massive electoral blackouts throughout much of the Atlantic seaboard, our biggest surprise following Superstorm Sandy was the number of pleas and emails from every and any relief organization with whom Sox In A box had ever worked, with the request to send out not hundreds, but thousands of pairs of socks to countless agencies in need. At the time of the aftermath of the storm, we did not only receive out usual requests from agencies and organizations like FEMA and the Red Cross, but absolutely every organization with whom we had ever worked, including every religious relief organization, school related agencies, and even local and regional police and fire departments, had forwarded e-mails to agencies such as ourselves, begging, just not asking, for immediate help.
So struck by the overwhelming need for immediate action and help, our Board of Directors had an emergency meeting to send all the socks from our offices and warehouse, even several thousand pairs of socks that had not been sorted or yet put into boxes, meet the immediate and overwhelming demand for the thousands of people left homeless all over the East Coast.
More importantly, it soon became aware to our Board that distribution of our socks once they reached the East coast was going to be chaotic since communication in some of the areas was proving next to impossible and also, that many of the relief agencies with whom we work in tandem were completely overwhelmed by the continuing crisis. Thus our Board of Directors then became worried who on the other end would be able to accept our socks and make sure that they were delivered to the communities that most needed them.
Ultimately, it became clear very quickly that to be most effective, some of our older adults, younger adults, and even teenage volunteers would have to go to the East Coast and aid with distribution. One of the principals at one of our middle schools in the Los Angeles area, who has assisted us inour sock drives for so many years, had a relative who is an important executive with United Air Lines,and has continuously helped us ship our socks to many locations around the world, basically for free. This relative was able to secure some last minute discounted seats that allowed some of us to fly to New York from both Texas and San Diego. Others of us packed up as many socks that we could get into three big vans and two cars and simply made out way across country to New York City where we were able to stay in sleeping bags for nine days in the basement of a house owned by the first cousin of one of our Board of Directors. I cannot begin to describe the generosity of this amazing family, who without any proper notice, allowed us to invade their house and set up our temporary headquarters of distribution.
During our first week, it seemed like almost the entire neighborhood block volunteered to take us to parts of New Jersey, Staten Island, and Queens where we were shocked to see victims of Superstorm Sandy wandering around their destroyed neighborhoods in terrible circumstances: the weather was freezing cold; their clothes and houses were damaged or gone; some people were trying to light fires to keep warm in hazardous conditions because there was no electricity; and the conditions in the neighborhood looked like a bomb blast had destroyed everything.
For people from Southern California, our first shock was the extremely cold temperatures that seemed inconceivable for these poor people to bear. When we arrived at Staten Island the next day, it was maybe a week after the superstorm and a new cold front was moving in which made us literally freeze in our boots. What shocked us most moving through Staten Island and down into New Jersey and Maryland, is how frigid temperatures and ice made their way directly down to the ocean. In California, it is so balmy, it is rarely cold by the Pacific Ocean.
We were told that houses on the East Coast are built extra strong to withstand the more adverse weather but after seeing the total destruction and every type of home laying in total ruin with loose boards, wiring, roofs torn apart, sides of homes torn apart, our mouths simply fell open at the sight of immense destruction tat was obvious everywhere.
I had personally seen the destruction of the earthquake in Turkey that had killed 10,000 people and I also had gone to the sight of destruction left by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, but this sight due to frigid temperatures that left victims extremely helpless, was one of the most difficult tragedies to absorb. Soon, we realized that with the overwhelming amount of physical collapse and chaos of both people and buildings that we needed a better and more organized plan of attack. Conference calls with FEMA and the Red Cross only emphasized the scope of the tragedy and that all of us would have to act swiftly to help victims and combat the cold.
After two more days, we realized that we faced several overwhelming problems: gasoline was being rationed so it was unpredictable if we would fill up everyday; many, many roads were blocked with so many wires down and parts of trees and buildings were littering the roads—all of which compounded our frustration of trying to reach some of the most hard hit areas; the police and other officials would not let us go into some of the hardest hit areas because of the danger coming from all of the debris and wires that were down; and a huge, huge problem that no one answered at the shelters that we were trying to reach because phone service was intermittent, if at all, even after ten days; out walkie-talkies were only helpful if we all stayed together..the question being if we would bemore effective if we split up in groups as we were used to doing in handling many of our emergencies.
Our first destination was Breezy Point, Queens, where a fire had broken out after the storm and caused several blocks of houses and buildings in the affected region to literally burn down to the ground. When we reached the blackened streets that were mostly closed off by the Fire Department officials, we were amazed to see several homeowners wandering around in their search for whatever they could salvage out of what had been their homes. It was so sad and we reached into our bags and gave them all the socks that they could carry and two of the men seemed so grateful to us, telling us that they had knew people who had no clothes other than the ones that they were wearing. So we felt really good about our efforts.
However, it was the fire marshals at the scene who would give us the biggest tip for our entire trip. All the fire department stations were becoming key centers for donation drop-offs and the firemen and women said our donations of socks would be most effective if we could drop out socks off at each site and that the firemen would be taking supplies out to needy people in various locations each day. They gave us a map of which stations were becoming active relief centers and told us that the fire trucks were always going to be let through in affected areas while our vans would not be admitted into those devastated areas as readily.
For the rest of our stay in New York and New Jersey, we tried to go to the worst areas including once again to Staten Islandwhich we knew very well since my father had once lived there while he was in school. We also visited the Atlantic city area of homes (after seeing the horrifying stretch of the Boardwalk); the worst places in some of the cities on Long Island, and our final place, in parts of New Jersey, where some of the fire stations told us that relief agencies were having a more difficult time reaching the affected areas.
Our time was too short although most of us were missing school and work and had to get back. Yet the memories will haunt all my team members and me for the rest of our lives. We can never forget the desperate looks on peoples’ faces and their suffering but also their resilience and determination to stay alive by lighting fires to stay warm with no electricity. If any one knows me, they know that I am also wild about pets and after seeing several dogs and cats wandering around aimlessly without their owners, we also will always how we took two lost dogs and 1 cat to a temporary shelter set up by a person with no experience but one who simply cared that animals as well as people deserve their safety and their well being. The resilience of the people of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland will long be remembered and respected by all of us for their bravery and the fact that so many caring relief agencies like ourselves came out to help others made us all appreciate how lucky we are to be living in the United States of America.
Our founder, Dani Marco, has developed a new mailing system in which boxes of socks can be shipped expeditiously and with less freight costs. After extensive meetings with the Board of Directors, the decision was made to ship new pairs of socks without their decorated take-out boxes in certain emergency situations where the socks have to reach their destinations in a very short time, i.e., after an earthquake or a tornado. The Board of Directors and other attendees agreed that the price of air freight has now become cost-prohibitive and is preventing us from reaching out to people whose homes have been demolished and whose personal possessions have been destroyed after the many natural disasters that have struck our country this year. Without the socks being placed into boxes, we will save approximately one-third of our shipping costs and can ship the socks at a speedier rate. Another idea presented at the Board of Director’s meeting is that we should buy a small truck or van to deliver our socks. One of our Directors at the meeting told us that it is possible to buy a used U-Haul truck in fairly good condition for less than $4000. The suggestion was made that we could paint the truck with our logo and we could drive the socks out to places in need within U.S. boundaries. The down side, however, is that with gas prices being what they are, the Board still can’t decide if buying a truck is in our best interests. A further suggestion was made that we contact relief agencies and ask them to piggyback our shipments with theirs. Unfortunately, our previous attempts to arrange exactly such an effort have resulted in disclaimers in the sense these organizations cannot guarantee the safety or delivery of our socks.
For this reason, our plans for the rest of this year and into 2012 is to align ourselves more closely with both corporate and church-based entities. We need to find responsible organizations and companies who ship all over the U.S. or travel abroad and would be willing to load our boxes of socks and letters of hope and inspiration onto their trucks, trains, or air shipments. For example, word of mouth this past Spring resulted in members of the U.S. military delivering our socks by jet to several places around the world including Iraq, Afghanistan, and to Okinawa, Japan by way of the local Marines stationed near Camp Pendleton in Southern California. Two very large churches in the Southern California area have taken several thousand pairs of our socks to orphanages in various parts of El Salvador and Nicaragua. Everyone from a huge trucking conglomerate doing business with Limey’s Lorries in San Diego along with the generosity of one of Southern California’s biggest professional medical supply companies have allowed us to piggyback our socks onto their freight beds destined for places both here and to Haiti and parts of the Dominican Republic.
All these efforts would not be possible without the donations and support from our some of our most recent donors and relief expediters including America Express, Wedbush Morgan, Bank of America, Kraft Foods Foundation, and the many donations of socks by sincere donors that we receive daily through the mail. Most of all, we need to express our thanks to the hundreds of students and teachers throughout Southern California who have work tirelessly to collect and assemble our socks as well as, in some cases, to translate our letters of hope and inspiration into many different languages including our last effort of this past month of translating almost seven hundred letters by middle school aged children into the language used by many people in Afghanistan called Farsi.
Our email addresses for contacting us have changed. Please feel free to contact us at the following new addresses:
The SOX IN A BOX teams of volunteers
With Dani Marco, our founder, attending Rice University in Houston, Texas, efforts have been made to step up our Sox efforts in the Midwest portion of the country. The Board of Directors has officially voted their support in favor of start-up Sox In A Box clubs or chapters at various college campuses across America with a Rice University/Houston chapter leading the way. Already, the club has been contacted by various needy organizations including the Afghan Women’s Project and its chapter in Houston that sends thousands of pounds of needed goods in containers by sea to women in need who are persecuted by the Taliban. Our objective will also be to send new pairs of socks to the many homeless people in the Midwest who have been affected by one of the coldest winters in recent history that has affected all parts of the United States.
Finally, our most ambitious project for 2010 will be to connect with several “Shoe” charities that provide brand new shoes to people in need, and see if we can partner with them to send our socks with their shoes in joint shipments.
Again, our wish for 2010 is to work with other charities in the quest to end world hunger, and to provide even the poorest people with the most basic of necessities including pairs of new socks. We will continue to write to needy people around the world, sending messages of hope and inspiration. We ask all of our readers to join us in praying for world peace, joy, kindness, and tolerance of all cultures. These remain our great dreams and prayers for the coming year!
Best wishes to all our supporters, contributors, and donors!
The SOX IN A BOX teams of volunteers
One of the important points that we need to get across to the public is that we can only accept NEW pairs of socks that are sent to our organization-not old or used ones. We were distraught to discover that a local church in our area had launched a sock drive over the course of eighteen months that resulted in almost seven thousand pairs of socks being donated to our SOX organization. When the socks arrived, our volunteers opened up the generous bags of socks that the church had sent over, only to discover that most of the socks were old, worn, and dirty. While we felt extremely grateful and thankful for the socks, we cannot, under our organization’s bylaws, forward these socks on because of potential liability and health code violations. We want our supporters to know that the socks were not thrown away, though. They were given to a worthy organization that can accept used socks under their bylaws and can forward them on to the appropriate recipients.
Sox in a Box is pleased to welcome our new executive director, Kaveer Grewal, a graduate of Georgetown University, who will coordinate our efforts to reach more needy and homeless people through increased contact with non-profit charities across the United States. Our Board of Directors has met and has determined that we must increase the number of brochures and mailings to the general public as we continue to receive requests for more information about our charity, as well as offers by the wonderful citizens of various community organizations who have seen our advertisements and want to know how they can help.
From February through May of 2009, Sox In a Box continued our successful “Footprints Across America” campaign by sending socks to rescue and homeless shelters in Oakland, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh. College students who wanted to volunteer their services over Spring Break also took our socks to orphanages and schools in Chicago, and to various cities in Missouri that had experienced terrible flooding.
The excitement, challenges, and upheavals in 2008 have made this past year one of the most dynamic and unforgettable in our eight-year operational history. The beginning months of 2008 were marked by the tough decision to halt our in-person operations in the Mexican cities directly south of the U.S./Mexican border indefinitely due to the dangers and threats of violence experienced by our volunteers who attempted to deliver socks and letters of hope throughout the upper Baja California peninsula. Residents of Southern California have opened their newspapers to read of unending violence and murders aking place, even at the most popular tourist destinations of Tijuana and Ensenada, as rug cartels and gangs murder innocent people who accidentally find themselves in the middle of the fighting between local police and the drug rings. The U.S. Department of State has issued statements warning all Americans to avoid crossing the border if at all possible. The result of these warnings is that thousands of people living at or below the poverty level in Mexico, people who need our socks, cannot always receive them.
Nevertheless, we are confident that we will find a way to continue delivering socks to the children of Baja California who don’t have any. Our contacts and volunteers there are reliable and we will surely make it happen again. We have also recently established a contact in the Yucatan part of Mexico and in December of this past year, over two thousand pairs of new socks and letters of hope were delivered to the indigenous people of Merida, the capital city of the Yucatan, through medical clinics established there by both U.S. and Mexican health officials.
Because of increased problems of delivering socks internationally not only to Mexico but to other hot spots of the world, we tried to restructure many of our deliveries in 2008 to people in need within our own country. As part of our target campaign to reach district schools and service organizations across the United States, our 2008 slogan became “Sox Footprints Across America”. When Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Ike pounded the Gulf Coast, our volunteers made their way to Texas and Louisiana to help those people in need. The major newspaper in Houston, Texas, the Houston Chronicle, was not only kind enough to publish an article on our efforts to reach hurricane evacuees but, also, they helped us gather new sources and listings of orphanages, shelters, hospitals and other charitable organizations in their local area who could benefit from our socks. In the Galveston area, located approximately 35 miles from Houston, we delivered suitcases of socks to people in the hurricane-devastated areas of San Leon, Kemah, Seabrooke, and Bayou Vista. Three of our volunteers drove all the way to Louisiana where we were able to bring socks and letters of inspiration to the city of Houma in the Terrebonne Parish where Hurricane Ike had caused more flooding than the previous Hurricane Gustav (only two weeks apart!) because of the more extensive storm surge.
Photos taken of our operation cannot truly capture the destruction and havoc wreaked by Hurricane Ike. In one particular small town called San Leon, our volunteers were saddened to see that almost forty percent of the apartments and houses in the city had been leveled by the hurricane. Steel roofs were bent and twisted in odd shapes as if they were rubber bands. Windows were blown out of every single house that we observed. As we drove through street after street of the city, we were shocked to find the town still almost entirely deserted, even during a return trip almost three weeks after the hurricane. There was none of the usual sounds of music or TV or the laughter of children playing in their yards as we drove down roads still filled with debris and trash. Instead, there was a haunting silence in the middle of the day that we will never forget.
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