MARQUETTE — After two weeks of planning, organizing and donating, Marquette Alternative High School’s Rock the Socks campaign has proven to be a massive success. Five businesses and seven schools donated and served as drop-off sites, reaching out to the community to provide socks for the homeless and less fortunate right here in Marquette.

“Socks are very popular here, and would make wonderful gifts this Christmas, and I’m sure are going to be wonderful for our giveaway today,” said Carla Edgar, a cashier at the St. Vincent DePaul thrift store in Marquette.

The St. Vincent DePaul Society was one of the businesses that were heavily involved. Marquette Alternative High School teacher Cindy DePetro’s students dropped off two large boxes chock-full of socks for those that needed them most.

“It was such a huge collaboration. So we want to make sure that the public knows that when we do this, the kids organize it, but it’s really the community coming together,” she said.

As a community, this year’s rock the socks campaign brought in over 4,000 pairs of socks. But as Cindy says, it’s a collaboration, not a competition.

“We never talk about who brought in the most socks, because even 20 socks from a location is 20 more warm feet,” said DePetro.

I don’t know about you, but getting even one pair of socks for Christmas is a treat. It’s a simple gesture of giving.

“For us to say, you know, ‘we’ve got an extra couple pairs of socks here for you,’ it’s just a game changer,” said Beacon House CEO Mary Dowling. “Those small comforts do big, big things.”

“It’s small in some respects, but it’s huge in others,” said DePetro.

The Rock the Socks campaign does more than teach students organizational and teamworking skills.

“As teachers, we want our students to learn math, science, English, and history. But really, it’s the lessons about empathy and about remembering your fellow man, and paying it forward and giving,” said DePetro. “Seeing their growth is a lesson that you really can’t put into words. How do you measure that?”

You could measure it in socks. After the sixth straight year, DePetro still feels like it’s Christmas morning after donating.

“How it feels? You know, it warms my heart to the point that I have to hold back the tears.”

The students, along with the community, are working to make the city of Marquette a better place, on pair of socks at a time.

“I think we can get through everything if we’ve got a little bit of support,” said Dowling.

DePetro, choking back tears, added, “The joy that it brings, I mean to me, this is Christmas. Right here.”