Santa Baby

Susan Campbell Reneau, who started the sock drive and personally delivers the socks, remembers the beginning of "santa socks" 10 years ago. Reneau also bestows all volunteers with an elf name, hers being Santa Baby.

Rebekah Welch, Missoulian

For the past 10 years, magical elves and Santa Claus, too, have delivered hundreds of warm pairs of socks filled with treats to veterans of all ages in Ravalli and Missoula counties under the leadership of the United Veterans Council of Missoula and Ravalli counties, and Christmas 2017 was no exception.

All of us from the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Daughters of the American Revolution, Missoula Civil Air Patrol, United States of Hope, RIVER and Office on Aging RSVP Program could not have had pairs of socks or treats without some very special donors. Also, thank you to your newspaper for doing a great amount of stories that got the word out about Santa Socks this year and every year.

Big thanks go to the children of Russell, Rattlesnake and Washington Middle School who made fabulous cards that went to hundreds of veterans with the Santa Socks.

Gratitude goes to two anonymous donors, Lolo Wood Products, Sapphire Physical Therapy, Bob and Syndey McCue, Bob and Michelle Bedard-Smith, First Security Bank, MountainTops, Tonya Foley of Majestic Madness Beauty Salon, Heaven’s Hidden Treasures, Jonathan Cuevas of CVS Health, Boot Barn, Walmart Stores on Highway 93 and Mullan Road, Five Valleys Pachyderm Club, Target, Costco, Ruby’s Inn and Convention Center, Quality Inn and Suites, DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Wingate by Wyndham, Holiday Inn Express and Suites, Hampton Inn, C’mon Inn, W.B. Cobb, Montana ACE Hardware, Julene Berman, Mark and Kim Dierking, Alpha Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi, Carlo’s One Night Stand, Staples, and U-Haul.

With their generous donations and the donations of time by our magical elves, 685 veterans of all ages were given hugs and cheer this holiday season in Ravalli and Missoula counties.

Our next distribution of cheer will be Cupid’s Army of Valentines in February! Easter Bunny Hop comes this spring. Firecracker Brigade will deliver tiny American flags and cards to veterans around July 4, and throughout the year our team of volunteers and donors will help veterans with emergency shelter, gasoline and food. These same volunteers organize Memorial Day, Flag Day and Never Forget September 11 ceremonies.

No words can honestly thank the volunteers and donors for their service to our veterans and to our veterans for their service to our nation, but together we are a team. If you want to become magical, email us at, and we will put you to work spreading cheer.

Susan Campbell Reneau, AKA Santa Baby, organized the first Santa Sock drop to veterans in 2008 and is a chief organizer of United Veterans Council events. 

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