Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Poem, From Our Table To Yours

I am lucky enough to be spending today with my family, but I needed to take a moment to thank you. It has been a rough year, but it's also been a wonderful one. I am in constant awe of the positivity and support that pours in and out of this little operation and I couldn't be more grateful to share this community we've built together. Thank you so much for your fairy dust, I sprinkle {that $h!+} everywhere.

Yesterday was a busy and beautiful day. Our ITLT Co-captain Leon stopped by a child trauma center with a HANDmade Thanksgiving wreath and hands for the kids to use in their own projects, while I headed down town. My first stop was at the Midnight Mission. An organization called Dirty Model Movement (named for the idea that you have to get your hands dirty to be a model citizen) coordinated a group volunteer day, so we gathered to feed several hundred people. I was put to work in the kitchen washing and chopping celery, then I worked on the food line serving bread first and then hot tamales and salad. After they ate, socks were passed out, so of course I came bearing two bags of new socks collected at our recent Knock Knock Give a Sock/ITLT Lonely Socks Drive. It was an incredibly exhausting and rewarding experience, and I can't wait to go back! My next stop was at the Downtown Women's Center where I dropped off another box of socks, several packs of new underwear, and the specially made holiday cards created by the Associated Student Union at LA Valley College. After I hopped into their cafe to grab my favorite iced chai tea latte (where the woman asked me if I worked at DWC because she's seen me several times - that was pretty cool...), I headed back to the domestic violence women's shelter in the San Fernando Valley. At Haven Hills, I dropped off a giant bag of clothes hangers, courtesy of Tula Cosmetics, and of course more HANDmade Thanksgiving wreaths and extra hands for the kids at the shelter. It was a very fulfilling day and I wouldn't have wanted to spend the day before Thanksgiving any other way! Thank you SO much to everyone who contributed to sharing all that positivity energy with me around Los Angeles yesterday.

If you have a spare moment today, I've shared below one of my favorite poems of all time.  I had the honor of working with Joy Harjo (Muskogee Creek) on her one-woman show, Wings of Morning Light, Wings of Night Sky, in San Diego at the La Jolla Playhouse and Los Angeles with Native Voices at the Autry. Her work is a gorgeous collection of Native American values, and I fell in love with this particular poem when I first read it. This is not a Thanksgiving poem whatsoever-- has nothing to do with it. However, if you are lucky enough to be with your family, think of Joy's words as you gather around the kitchen table today.

Perhaps the World Ends Here

By Joy Harjo
The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

"Perhaps the World Ends Here" from The Woman Who Fell From the Sky by Joy Harjo. Copyright © 1994 by Joy Harjo.
Source: The Woman Who Fell From the Sky (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 1994)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Lonely Socks Club

November kicks off such a fun season of giving... we were so excited, we jumped into several different projects! This first one is SO easy, hopefully you can't find an excuse not to participate.

I don't remember how I found out about them, but I fell in love with the idea of Knock Knock Give a Sock, an organization that provides socks to homeless shelters. Founded only a few years ago by a young woman studying at NYU, this organization came out of a valuable lesson: listening to the needs of your community. Founder Adina Lichtman was originally handing out sandwiches to people experiencing homelessness in NYC when a man thanked her but said, "one thing we really need is socks, especially as winter approaches."

Aptly named, Knock Knock Give a Sock (KKGAS) asks campus representatives to knock on college dorm room doors and collect extra socks from students. It was such a great idea, I had to reach out despite our non-college situation. Adina herself emailed me back almost immediately and enthusiastically shared that they do in fact collect in Chicago, Dallas, AND Los Angeles; essentially, with a zip code and city, Adina can find you a local shelter in need.

They touch on a bunch of important things and this is why I decided to run a KKGAS drive:

They address a serious need
Socks are the most requested but least donated article of clothing at homeless shelters. You can run this drive year round, but especially with chillier months approaching, it's an essential and in demand item.

They make donating easy and convenient
Socks are light weight and small. No bulky cans, huge boxes, or heavy items. Honestly, what's easier?

Everyone can participate
We all have at least one pair of socks that has been tragically separated in the washing machine. Since you haven't found the other sock yet, you can donate the lonely one to a great cause.

They embody the giving season
KKGAS was founded in the month of November. This makes SO much sense to me. Hopefully, we can be charitable all year round, but there's something about the season leading up the holidays that makes people cozy and generous.

Here's what we did:

For the past several months, our ITLT Co-captain has been focused on recording, mixing, and mastering his band's new EP. The Janks, a loved Los Angeles band, has gained some momentum in the last three years and has developed a friendly and faithful following. When they began to plan their Living in Denial EP Release Show, I approached them about hosting a KKGAS drive. They are great guys, so they were happy to share the evening. I titled the event the "Lonely Socks Club," created several flyers, got into The Janks newsletter, and blasted social media for a week leading up to the event.

The night of the EP Release show, I brought some signage and a giant box... and I was terrified I'd end the night with no more than seven socks. Total.

And then - before I knew it - the box was nearly FULL with sock donations. Now, I did have some awesome #TeamITLT friends that contributed, but I was amazed at the amount of people I didn't know (strangers!) that must've seen a flyer or just love the band and simply wanted to donate; I hoped that if we made it easy and convenient, and for a great cause, they would and they did! About half of the socks donated were by people who went hunting in their sock drawer - clean, gently used, and no holes. And, I guess people liked the idea of being involved, because the other half of the socks were completely new, still-in-the-package socks. I was blown away and so touched that it was such a success.

Your ITLT Co-captains 

Half of The Janks and me with our box of socks at the end of the night!

Two of the most supportive ladies in town. 
Check our instagram to see the extra gift that Kelly (right) brought that night!

The Janks and friends in our silliest photo of the night, by far.

Rhi, local artist and crafter, pulled out all her lonely socks!

And now... the FINAL SOCK COUNT!
From this one night alone, we managed to collect:

14 used single socks
74 pairs of used socks
59 pairs of NEW socks

140 pairs of socks TOTAL (that's 280 socks!)

And I know our contributors had a ton of fun and 
must've felt really good selecting their donations because this included:

18 pairs of SUPER cozy socks (you know the kind...)
13 pairs of kids socks
5 pairs of Xmas socks
38 pairs of socks that came in packages of 3 or more

Here they are!

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed!

In addition to The Janks show, I shared news of this sock drive at both of my schools. The college, which is not a four-year university, doesn't have dorm rooms we can knock on, but I did share with our Inter-club Council. After a week, the (heart shaped) basket in my office is already overflowing with sock donations. (Thank you, Psychology Club!) Just one day after I shared with the faculty at the elementary charter school I teach at, one of the teacher's sought me out to share that she was able to secure a donation and sponsorship from a local shoe store. AMAZING!

Knock Knock Give a Sock
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We will definitely be posting more photos soon on our facebook page -- check it out!

So what do you think? Will you be collecting lonely socks soon this season?