Last updated: May 6, 2017 at 21:10 pm
Socks for Soldiers’ goal: a pair of warm, durable socks for every soldier. If you love to knit socks, this is your opportunity to make a difference
Kim Opperman grew up during the Vietnam War era.
“I did not wish to ever see the disrespect shown to soldiers during that era,” she says. “The blatant disrespect and nonsupport was not only offensive but outrageous… to punish the warrior for the decisions of a political viewpoint of that time.”
Another layer of emotion to the longing to support soldiers: Kim’s oldest son Tom was serving overseas with the U.S. Air Force.
The desire to send “tangible gifts of love, that will also be the best socks they will ever own, for the rest of their lives” led Kim to create knitting charity Socks for Soldiers, Inc. in March 2006.
“It also bears a nostalgic fingerprints of times past where men and women supported their troops by gathering into circles to knit and pray. That was what I was emulating here, a continuation of our American history.”
She continues this tradition today from her home in Shelby, Ohio, where she operates Socks for Soldiers, Inc. as a nonprofit as its president and CEO.
The Mission of Socks for Soldiers
All soldiers yearn for care packages from home, and Socks for Soldiers, Inc. is answering that yearning. Their specialty is knitting sturdy, comfortable knitted socks to replace or supplement standard issue for overseas soldiers.
While the military does its best, it has to clothe millions of people as inexpensively as it can. Sadly, the acrylic and nylon socks modern soldiers get wear out quickly and can cause blisters. They can also cause foot rot from acrylic’s inability to breathe.
“Acrylic is made of plastic, and it catches on fire, it turns to molten lava and adheres to skin. Wool quickly turns to dry ash when on fire,” Kim explains.
That’s not the case with Socks for Soldiers socks!
Gifts of Love to the Men & Women Who Keep Us Safe
Kim soon amassed a group of over two thousand + knitters from every walk of civilian life in all allied countries. Financial support from VFW and the American Legion were also appreciated.
As of this writing, they send year-round; “26 large boxes shipping out this week,” Kim told me in an e-mail. “Next is a large Navy Submarine unit with 160 men. We are also working on a large shipment to Seal Team One that we had shipped to previously.”
Kim stresses that all of Socks for Soldiers works together as a team to help all soldiers.
“This is not a ‘grab the pattern/yarn and go knit for your boss’s neighbor’s nephew and his whole unit. The yarn is sold wholesale to members with the understanding that the socks are to return to headquarters in a timely manner.
“We do not operate in chapters around the U.S. All [regulation] yarn is sent from me, and all [knitted] items return to me. I pack the boxes on my end.”
How You Can Help Soldiers
If you enjoy Ravelry you can join that group as well, but you can find the patterns and order the yarn Kim custom-designed for this group only at the Yahoo! and Facebook groups.
Although both men and women serve in many units in various branches, the infantry divisions are mostly male, and Kim receives a lot of socks for women. The more socks she receives for men, the better!
You can knit either leisure socks or regulation socks, although you must use only Socks for Soldiers patterns for regulation socks. You can knit leisure socks with any pattern or design.
New members are to use the regulation sock pattern to create probationary leisure socks. This allows new members to familiarize themselves with the pattern and become comfortable with it before beginning the official regulation socks in the premium yarn.
As you can imagine, regulation socks have much more stringent requirements. Use only the regulation sock yarn sold by Socks for Soldiers, Inc. at wholesale prices especially for this cause. Information about ordering this yarn is available on both Yahoo! and Facebook group pages.
This yarn creates All-Season Superwash Wool Socks, a term Kim coined to signify that they can wear these socks year-round.
For leisure socks, you can use any of the following approved brands of sock yarn:
(Some of these are affiliate links; for more information, please see my Disclosure Policy.)
Make sure you’re using masculine colors for men’s socks; women’s socks can have any colors.
Whether you join the Yahoo! group or the Facebook group, make sure you read all the proper guidelines and rules for the group. This will help you understand exactly what Socks for Soldiers expects.
If you or any non-knitting friends would like to make financial contributions to this cause, you can do so at the Socks for Soldiers, Inc. website.
Socks for Soldiers is a group that depends on its members discipline, consistency, dedication, and most of all, commitment. This isn’t an organization you can join half-heartedly. But if helping U.S. soldiers is a cause you feel passionately about, Socks for Soldiers is the group for you!