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 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 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.
In one of the newsletters you mentioned the Marines have a secondary mantra of “Semper Gumby,” which means always be flexible. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?
For a Marine the concept of change is something that is dealt with daily. As a result, rigidity in structure, process, and thinking does not work. The ability to rapidly adapt to meet changes in mission, resource availability, and a changing enemy is the key reason why the Marines are feared by most who would do our Nation harm. The Marines push responsibility down to the lowest levels of the Corps with Lance Corporals and Corporals doing jobs that are reserved for more senior non-commissioned officers in other branches. The concept of “Lance Corporal” ingenuity has been a key to victory in battles since 1776. As no one encompasses the idea of flexibility greater than that other American Hero, Gumby, it is no wonder that he has been adapted and revered in this instance.
What are some ways people can help support the cause?
The best way to support us is to help us get the word out. Subscribe to our newsletter and forward it to your friends, share our Facebook posts, attend our events, and generate awareness among your family friends and colleagues. The men and women we serve are not strangers, they are our children, neighbors and our friends. They are our family. What length would you go to support your family?
In its mission to support its Marine Corps family, Socks for Heroes has provided a staggering number of pairs of socks to American troops. May 11th was the organization's eight-year anniversary. It that time, they have shipped 636,000 pairs, or 53 tons of socks to troops abroad. They have passed out thousands of hot dogs, hamburgers, sausage sliders and donuts to your Marines and their families as the Marines prepared to board the buses that would take them to their deployments. They've provided hundreds of Marine families the chance to spend time together through the Recreational Grant program, so that their kids could take swim lessons, and attend summer and surf camps. To learn more about their initiatives, head to their website.