April 18, 2014

Elyria
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Auxiliary drive for homeless vets socks-sessful

ELYRIA — Wool or cotton, white or colored, socks are well — socks.

But thanks to donations from the Vermilion AMVETS and Vermilion Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Elyria’s American Legion Post 12 Ladies Auxiliary is turning 400 pairs of brand-new socks into much-needed smiles for homeless veterans in Lorain County.

The socks, enough to turn the entire back seat of a car into a mountain of white cotton, will be distributed through the ALL WOVEN program, which stands for American Legion Ladies Warming Our Veterans Every Night, one of the projects of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary.

Johni Wressell, first vice president of the Ladies Auxiliary, is the mastermind behind the program. After years of shopping the idea to various charity and nonprofit organizations, Wressell garnered the support she needed from fellow auxiliary club members.

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Almost immediately, ALL WOVEN seemed like a natural fit for the ladies.

“In everything we do, we do it to support veterans and their families,” she said. “We always say, ‘It’s not what we do, it’s just who we are.’ ”

However, helping the county’s poorest veterans would be difficult if not for the generous donations of others.

In the case of the 400 pairs of socks, Wressell said she owes everything to Pat Tauschek, a dedicated volunteer of the Vermilion group that started the drive.

“When she told me she was going to do a sock drive, I thought, great, we will probably get like 40 pairs of socks and we will be grateful for that,” Wressell said. “But she took it upon herself to get us so many more than just 40 pairs of socks. It’s amazing.”

The socks will go in toiletry kits that ALL WOVEN gives to homeless vets. Along with the kits, homeless veterans also are given Army-issued wool blankets.

To dole them out, sometimes it means going to a park, shelter or wherever the homeless have settled, Wressell said.

“We are not trying to judge. We are just trying to say we care,” she said. “Nine times out of 10, it’s socks and skivvies that the homeless ask for before food or a blanket. This is our way of saying thank you to them for going to war for us. Giving them a blanket or a pair of socks is the least we can do.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.