“You remembered me!” were the simple yet profound words spoken by veteran after veteran this December, young and old, sick and healthy, who received a Santa Sock from a magical elf.
Nothing fancy. A pair of socks, black or white, filled with small treats and a love note, presented with a joyful smile and warm hug by one or more humans of varying ages starting at age 5 and going past 85.
Some veterans received colorful knitted hats and blankets made by the loving hands of ladies and men belonging to Martha’s Ministries and Wraps for Vets. Every veteran received a handmade card created by a child from Washington Middle School, Russell Elementary School or children of private citizens around Missoula.
Added to that were the sponsors that cumulatively allowed the United Veterans Council, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Daughters of the American Revolution, VFW Auxiliaries, Juliette Girl Scouts, Wraps for Vets and United States of Hope volunteers to fill the warm pairs of socks with fun things to open so those veterans knew they were loved.
With appreciation, we thank in alphabetical order ACE Hardware of Missoula, Bretz RV and Marine, Carlo’s One Night Stand and Max, C’mon Inn of Missoula, Costco of Missoula, Culver’s Foreign Car Service, CVS Health and Manager Jonathan Cuevas, DoubleTree by Hilton on Missoula, Eagle Self Storage, First Security Bank of Missoula, Hampton Inn of Missoula, listeners of KGVO Radio’s “Talk Back” Show, Lolo Wood Products, Quality Inn of Missoula, Staples of Missoula, Target on Reserve Street, Ruby’s Reserve Street Inn in Missoula, U-Haul on Brooks in Missoula, VFW Auxiliary 209, Walmart on Mullan Road in Missoula, Walmart on Brooks Street in Missoula, Wingate by Wyndham and a small group of private citizens in Missoula.
A jolly Santa Claus, a veteran, too, spent his weekend visiting veterans in nursing homes, homeless shelters, assisted living and independent apartments, but "magical elves" (who were human children, men and women) also gave Santa Socks spontaneously around Missoula and the Bitterroot Valley from Dec. 6 to Dec. 25 to individual veterans in private homes, businesses and on the street for a spontaneous combustion of Christmas fun and joy to say thank you in a simple way.
A total of 750 Santa Socks will be given away by Dec. 25, a record since this joyful program started in 2008 by the United Veterans Council of Missoula and Ravalli Counties. When they are gone, they are gone, but the love will linger for years to come.
The Santa Sock is simple. The card is little. The hundreds of hats and blankets are warm. But combined, the 2018 distribution of Santa Socks represents a whole lot of love in Missoula and Ravalli counties by a group of about 25 men, women and children who for a moment transformed themselves into magical elves.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Find your segment of our community to thank and give them a simple hug and let the magic spread. This is ours.