Upper St. Clair’s Baker Elementary School recently collected 2,207 pairs of socks through its Socks With A Mission Have a Heart drive.
The socks will be distributed throughout the Pittsburgh area homeless community.
Led by fourth-grader Audrey Wetterau, students in kindergarten through fourth grade collected and donated socks from Feb. 3-10. Over the course of several months, Audrey participated in numerous meetings with school officials to ensure every detail was in place.
“Audrey is an inspiration to our students and staff,” said Patrick McClintock-Comeaux, Baker principal. “She previously conducted a drive of her own and has delivered supplies to some of our homeless neighbors in Pittsburgh through the mentoring of her parents and Mr. Wiesemann.”
Audrey got to know Erik Wiesemann, a Baker kindergarten teacher, during Upper St. Clair’s weeklong Elementary Leadership Academy last summer. In addition to teaching, he also runs the school’s All Wound Up Yo-Yo Club for fourth-graders.
The Yo-Yo Club has a long history of supporting local nonprofits, including Blankets Over Pittsburgh, which serves the homeless. In 2018, Wiesemann had the opportunity to participate in the distribution of blankets and witness firsthand the overwhelming need for everyday items including light. Subsequently, he founded Light in my City, an organization that provides lanterns and flashlights to the city’s homeless.
“When it gets dark at night, the homeless can’t see what they’re eating, can’t read, or even have a face-to-face conversation with a friend,” Wiesemann said. “The lack of light can also be dangerous. Our goal is to provide light, dignity and safety to Pittsburgh’s homeless population.”
As Audrey learned more about the needs of Pittsburgh’s homeless community, she was inspired and determined to help.
“Upon hearing about the homeless here in Pittsburgh, she immediately – and I mean immediately, like that very day – went home and came up with her own organization to help,” Wiesemann said. “We talked together about items that would be beneficial for the homeless, and she went out and made it happen.”
After working on a flier for her first collection drive, she collected 300 pairs of men’s socks, 144 pairs of men’s underwear, 41 pairs of women’s socks, 181 packages of disposable washcloths and hundreds of other personal care items.
Audrey feels privileged she can help and is determined to show her peers they can make a big difference in the lives of others.
“It would be so hard to live that life,” she said. “They have nothing, and we’re so privileged. We take so much for granted. And I can help make the world a better place, even by doing a small thing.”
Socks With A Mission’s goal is to inspire schools, clubs, teams, families and others to host sock drives. By partnering with Pittsburgh area organizations, Audrey and her family are able to ensure the socks are distributed to those in need.
“This project embodies the virtuous cycle of an ideal school-family connection,” McClintock-Comeaux said. “Audrey, with the support of her family, put her inspiration into practice by holding a community sock drive and forming their own charity. She then reconnected with Mr. Wiesemann to see firsthand how her generosity benefited those in need.”
In response to Baker Elementary’s sock drive, another Baker family has already held the first satellite SWAM drive. To date, Socks With A Mission has collected more than 4,000 pairs of socks.