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HHS students donate socks, time to vets

Helping to sort civilian clothes at Fort Snelling are HHS students, from left, Zach Robison, Paige Sullivan and Alex Solberg. The clothes were distributed to homeless veterans who attended a StandDown sponsored by the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans. Photo submitted

Hudson High School students found a new way to honor veterans this year, just in time for Memorial Day.

Students in Laurie Harmon's American literature online class organized and conducted a "sock drive" at Hudson High School. The class collected and delivered 1,500 pairs of socks to Fort Snelling on May 19. Students distributed the socks, along with hygiene kits, to hundreds of homeless veterans from the Twin Cities area.

Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans is an organization to help homeless and impoverished veterans, and every year, MAC-V hosts several StandDown events.

The class researched homeless veterans and the problems with homelessness in conjunction with the study of a memoir titled "The Glass Castle," by Jeannette Walls. The students in the class then helped others in the high school to realize that 23 percent of all homeless people are veterans.

Students, staff and parents rose to the occasion, donating over 800 pairs of socks. Sam Otten, a student in the class, also wrote and received a $500 grant from the Education Foundation of Hudson, which enabled the students to purchase over 700 more pairs of socks. Hudson High School was able to contribute over 1,500 pairs of socks to the two-day event - more than double their original goal of 600 pairs.

In addition to collecting socks, the 16 students (10 from the class, four returning from last year and two band students who provided musical entertainment) served at the all-day event. They assisted in a variety of ways: setting up tables and chairs, registering attendees and playing games and visiting with the veterans. The students also organized and distributed both military issue and civilian clothing, and they helped prepare and serve a meal of pulled pork sandwiches and coleslaw to all in attendance, veterans and volunteers alike.

Along with the class, chaperones Navy Captain James Coulson (retired) and his wife Maggie volunteered again this year and were an important part of the day's preparation and events.

"Overall, the day's activities allowed students to observe, first hand, the effects of poverty and homelessness and to experience how they can make a significant impact in the lives of others," said Harmon.

Student Samantha Otten said, "The atmosphere in the tent as we bagged all of the socks was excitement and hope. Together everyone was preparing for the day ahead, knowing that we would make a difference in someone's life. Those few anxious moments that you get, those are the best!"