Kellon Oldenettel, 11, of Jacksonville, Illinois, a fifth-grader at South Jacksonville Elementary School, has collected more than 10,000 pairs of new socks over the past six years and distributed them to people in need through shelters, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, community organizations and the Salvation Army. Many years ago, Kellon’s mother told him “about all the struggles and hardships people have in the world, and that many don’t have what I have,” he said. He asked if that meant some people don’t have socks. Kellon immediately wanted to go to the store and buy some, but quickly realized that the need was probably too great for that solution. He called a few family members to help and placed a posting on Facebook. Within a few weeks, he had more than 500 pairs of socks.
Now, “Kellon’s Sock Drawer” is a project that runs all year long. Starting in the winter, Kellon asks a half-dozen local businesses for permission to place decorated collection boxes on their premises, and stops by each location weekly to pick up donated socks. He also speaks to young people, community organizations and other groups about his mission. After he sorts and counts all the socks he’s received, with the assistance of sorority sisters at a local college, Kellon begins the distribution process. He has donated socks to families impacted by house fires, to mission groups heading overseas and to chemotherapy infusion labs at hospitals, as well as to elementary schools, nursing homes and charitable organizations. In addition, Kellon personally hands out socks at public housing events, mobile food pantries and a local shelter. “No one deserves to have cold feet,” he said.