Non-profit collecting 'Socks for seniors'

By Glenda Rae Davis
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, November 15, 2012

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U nlike the rest of the state, northern Arizona's winter season sometimes reaches below-zero temperatures.

After doing some research, that is what Ohio native Jamie Coyne found out.

"We had people in Phoenix volunteer last year but after doing some research we decided to try to expand to northern Arizona because of the colder climate and just happened to chose Window Rock," said Coyne, who founded "Socks for Seniors", an Ohio-based non-profit organization that recently launched a campaign to collect socks for the elderly across the nation.

At first, the campaign allowed the members to reach out to those across the nation. But then Coyne and his staff decided that the Navajo Nation is where they needed to spend some time.

Although the Navajo Nation is unknown territory for Coyne he said that getting socks to elders was important.

"Me and my family, along with our church, went to a nursing home here in Columbus and my wife was talking to an elderly woman who usually was cheerful but seemed upset," said Coyne.

Coyne's wife Kitty talked to the woman and found that she was uncomfortable and her feet were cold. When the woman showed Kitty the old, worn socks she was wearing, she became sad.

"Kitty noticed that the woman's socks were very old and even had holes in it," said Coyne. "She left immediately and returned later with a package of new socks for the woman."

Coyne said with this in mind, he launched "Socks for Seniors" and has since reached out to other communities and elders across the country.

He hopes to help Navajo elders but said he needs volunteers.

"We need someone from (the Navajo Nation) to step forward," he said. "All you have to do is decorate some boxes and drop them off at different locations so people can donate socks. That's it!"

Coyne said that his involvement is minimal and that his organization staff acts as advisors to the volunteers.

"It's a feel-good, low-cost holiday project for volunteers," said Coyne.

Volunteers are emailed printable signs to put on the boxes as well as instructions and tips for completing a successful campaign.

According to Wayne Claw, CEO of Navajoland Nursing Home Inc., the socks would be a great contribution.

"We need whatever we can get," he said. "We don't take care of our own…A lot of the elders here are just dropped off and forgotten about. That's elder neglect."

He added that 85 percent of the elders in the nursing home receive no clothing or visitors.

Claw said that the money used to run the nursing home is in short supply due to funding cuts.

The nursing home is one of only a handful on the reservation and according to the Navajo Nation Agency on Aging, there are 36,740 Navajo elders on the Navajo Nation.

"Organize a sock drive with your family or friends," said Coyne. "Take care of your elders."

The campaign will end on Dec. 23 and socks are to be delivered by volunteers by or before Christmas Day.


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