Socks of Hope – Mizzou Academy Service Initiative

Posted in: News

Our Mizzou Global Scholars program teaches young people that they don’t have to wait to start making a difference on the issues that matter to them and their community. In this service feature, read about how a group of Grade 8 scholars inspired action in both São Paulo, SP, and Columbia, MO.

Grade 8 Students at Magno
Grade 8 student leaders organizing socks during the project

The Grade 8 Scholars at Colegio Magno (São Paulo, SP) wanted to do something meaningful to support the homeless community near their school. After researching key needs of the housing insecure population, they learned that socks are a priority item at homeless shelters and agencies supporting this population. The student leaders got to work and launched a sock drive and initiative they called “Socks of Hope.” The scholars didn’t want to just send socks; they wanted to couple their socks with comfort and joy, so they recruited another group of student leaders—the Mizzou kindergarten scholars—to get involved, too. The kindergarten scholars and their teachers organized a huge cookie bake-off. The students then worked together to create caring bundles of socks and cookies. 

Luiza Dutra, the program coordinator, shared about this project with Mizzou Academy’s Executive Director, Dr. Kathryn Fishman-Weaver. “We are engaging the whole community to fundraise socks,” said Luiza, “and the kindergarten students will prepare gingerbread cookies to put with the socks for donation.” 

Fishman-Weaver sent an announcement about the “Socks of Hope” project inviting the Mizzou Academy faculty and staff to get involved. The response was incredible. Over the next week, the Mizzou office received well over 300 pairs of socks.

Socks for Magno
A selection of the socks collected during this project

“The response exceeded our expectations.” shared Fishman-Weaver. “We received so many socks that we had to problem-solve how best to distribute them. We had over 20lbs in sock donations, and teachers were texting me that more socks were on the way.” 

Last August (2021), the Mizzou Academy team launched an initiative committing to more service work in our Columbia community. Thinking of their goals with that initiative gave the team the idea for a one-to-one campaign.

Columbia Catholic Workers run two, year-round safe homes to support the local Columbia, Missouri homeless communities: Saint Francis House (for men) and Lois Bryant House (for women). Several Mizzou Academy faculty have served at these homes and the neighboring soup kitchen. As the temperatures dropped this month, the Columbia Catholic Workers put out a call for donations of “anything someone would want out in the cold.” Our heavy box of high-quality, warm socks certainly fit the bill.

A package for distribution in Sao Paulo SP
Socks and care items sent from Mizzou for distribution to the housing insecure community in Sao Paulo, SP
St. Francis House in Columbia MO
Socks and care items for the housing insecure community in Columbia, MO

On November 29, the Mizzou Academy team prepared two large bins of socks. The first they sent 5,000+ miles away to Colegio Magno for the student leaders to distribute in the greater São Paulo area. The second they loaded into the trunk of Fishman-Weaver’s car and delivered along with eight large bags of coffee to the Saint Francis House

Fishman-Weaver reflected, “We were proud to share with Preparing bins for the Socks project the Grade 8 student leaders that their project inspired a ripple effect. For every sock they received from us, we donated a second pair for distribution in Columbia, Missouri.” 

André Trinade, one of the Grade 8 student leaders in this project said, “In the beginning we were just trying to learn about homelessness, but in the end we started talking about empathy because that is what happens when we learn about people.” 

Jill Clingan and Kathryn Fishman-Weaver prepare bins for the St. Francis House

Learn more about the project from the student directors themselves with this video they presented at our Annual Teaching and Learning Conference.

Thank you to Steve Turner, Jill Clingan, Stephanie Walter, Lisa DeCastro, Megan Lilien, Kathryn Fishman-Weaver, Virginia Pohlman, Jeff Kopolow, Jackie Schroeder, Sarah Williams, and Tami Regan for sending and shipping socks for this project.  THANK YOU most of all to the Mizzou Global Scholars at Colegio Magno who led this impactful project! Your leadership is inspiring.