Support from the Ground Up

Jim Hogan, who cofounded Socks for Heroes with his wife, Carla, shares why they started the organization, and why socks are so important to service men and women.

Socks for Heroes is a local organization founded in 2008 in San Clemente, CA. In honor of Memorial Day, we caught up with Jim to help spread the word about the organization, its mission, and how people can help support it.

For those who aren't aware, can you provide some background on why you started Socks for Heroes?

Socks for Heroes was founded as a result of a meeting between myself, Carla, and two friends of our son, whom he had served with in Afghanistan. Knowing that they were getting to deploy to Afghanistan, we asked what we might do to help—what we could send them. They surprised us by saying "socks." We had thought that the Marine Corps provided clothing, but we found that the Marine Corps does not supply uniforms, underwear or socks. The Marines had to supply them themselves. What we learned was that socks are a key component for an infantryman, as they spend up to 16 hours a day patrolling, and don't take their boots off for days at a time. These conditions, coupled with a lack of laundry facilities, cause Marines to wash their socks in canals and air dry them. The result is socks filled with sand and grit from windstorms. After hearing this, it made sense to us that a ready supply of inexpensive, disposable socks would be useful to them.

What has been one of the most challenging aspects of running this organization?

Our biggest challenge is reminding people that there are still Americans fighting and dying in the Global War on Terror and that our Nation's Service Members deserve to be remembered. With all of the divisiveness that is broadcast in the media today, many people forget that there is one group of people that deserve their support regardless of political affiliation, a group that consists of what is best in America, that encompasses all aspects of our society that choose to put their Nation’s interests ahead of their own. While it is a challenge, it is one that we accept gladly.

"What we learned was that socks are a key component for an infantryman, as they spend up to 16 hours a day patrolling, and don't take their boots off for days at a time."

What attracted you to work with a brand like Stance?

I loved their approach. From the beginning they were very clear that this would be a joint collaboration, such a good vibe. They asked for my feedback and direction every step of the way. They would listen to my suggestions and then take everything to the next level. The attention to detail was insane. There are these little moments on my paintings that happen with the brushstrokes... these magical moments that happens with oil paint. Those areas read so well on the socks, it’s crazy... it’s done with knit, but they still nailed it!

What are your favorite things about living in NYC?

Ha! I think I jumped to this question earlier on. As I said, I love that NYC is the center of the art world, there are some other cities that are close contenders, but NYC is still king. I’m surrounded by such high level artists and that’s inspiring. You can find yourself eating dinner with them after an opening or doing studio visits with them. There’s a tight community of artists in such a big city, it’s such a special treat... I’m never moving anywhere else. I also love the pace of the city, it’s fast, you can get anything you need or need done super fast, it’s intense! That intensity is good to escape though, so it’s important to vacation and hit the beach to reset.

Any key advice to aspiring artist?

There are probably two things I would say. Find a way to always have a studio... at home, shared with friends, however and wherever. It’s important to have that sacred place to work on your ideas and practice. That leads into the second piece of advice... it’s inspired by Gerhard Richter’s book “The Daily Practice of Painting”. You have to draw, paint, or create everyday... even if it’s only for a short time. You have to get in that studio! It’s like working out, you're only as good as the last time you did it and the trick to getting better is doing it every damn day!