by Rory Dowd
When you think about love and charity and community, “socks” are probably not the first thing that jump to your mind. Socks are warm and necessary, sure, but they’re just socks. However, for some Reno students, socks are love.
Concerned that there was a lack of real engagement for young people who wanted to volunteer or become involved with community service, Bishop Manogue Catholic High School senior Matthew de Montfort Shepherd decided to start from scratch. He began “Socks of Love,” an organization run by high school students who want to take a hands-on approach towards service work.
Shepherd relates, “I originally started Socks of Love because I thought some of the volunteer work kids were doing, if any, just was not useful. For example, some charities don’t trust kids with doing the most meaningful work and just have kids set up tables for a food drive. In other scenarios, kids do not participate in service work at all because their time is taken up by other extra-curriculars such as sports or band. So, I wanted to start a charity where kids work for themselves and can make a first-hand difference.”
Starting with a few classmates at Bishop Manogue in late 2017, the 17-year-old organizer began putting together sock drives to both raise awareness of the homeless issues with his fellow students and take a practical approach to creating solutions.
“I wanted the kids who are too busy to participate in service work to know that donating one pair of socks to their fellow students could warm a child’s night, a child who they may go to school with,” Shepherd said. “I wanted to create an experience that combined expedience with meaning.”
And that experience has caught on; what started with a handful of friends has spread to a group of 25 at Bishop Manogue, a modest group of five students at Reno High School, and another 30 students at Galena High School headed up by Socks of Love representative Peyton Kosman.
As the group has expanded, so have their efforts. Their drives have collected socks, clothing, toiletries, school supplies, and other essential items to help the homeless and homeless youth of the Reno area. They have directly partnered with the Volunteers of America homeless shelter, Sister Carmen’s Foundation, and the Reno Sparks Gospel Mission, and will be donating school supplies to Catholic Charities.
Shepherd hopes to partner with more local businesses and charities in the upcoming year, as well as expanding into more area high schools. For more information on becoming involved with or sponsoring Socks of Love visit www.socksoflovenv.com, or search ‘socksoflovenv’ on all social media.