Bobby socks and poodle skirts were back in fashion at an inaugural Vero Beach Sock Drive Sock Hop Dance Party at Walking Tree Brewery.
Entry to the dance was a pair of socks. Not so big an ask, said event organizer and Vero Beach Sock Drive founder Barry Shapiro.
“A pair of socks doesn’t seem like a big deal, perhaps to you or me. Anytime we want, we can go to the store to buy a pair of socks. But to someone less fortunate, a veteran or a family living out of their car, a pair of socks can mean so much,” said Shapiro.
“What we’re doing is not a big deal, but it can mean a lot to someone who needs a helping hand. The gift of a pair of socks can do their heart good.”
Between a dance demonstration and lessons with Swingsation’s 14th Ave. Dance Studio owners Joe and Shari Tessier and the music of Professor Pennygoode’s Mighty Flea Circus, it was hard to keep your toes from tapping.
Later in the evening, folks showed some fancy footwork in a dance-off. The winners took home a group dance package from Swingsation and free beer from Walking Tree Brewery for a year – the perfect pairing to work up a sweat with the lessons and cool off with an icy brew.
Vero Beach Pin Ups ladies, dressed as if they had stepped off the pages of a 1950s calendar, wandered about selling raffle tickets and encouraging people to dance.
“This is year number five for the Sock Drive,” Shapiro told the crowd. “And in four years, we’ve delivered 23,000 pairs of socks to the homeless, the elderly and veterans all over the place to 12 different charities. Your contribution tonight will definitely help.”
Shapiro explained that he had been inspired to start collecting socks five years ago after reconnecting with a former high school classmate who had started Livingston Philanthropies, which collects clothing, food and supplies for the homeless and disadvantaged in the Newark, N.J. area.
When looking into how he could help, Shapiro discovered that socks are the No. 1 requested item in homeless shelters.
That first year, he put out a call to action to friends via social media and collected some 1,000 pairs of socks.
This year, White Glove Moving and Storage provided collection boxes at 30 local businesses in January and February, and donations were collected via the VB Sock Drive website.
Locally, socks will be distributed to: The Source, Hope for Families Center, Gifford Youth Achievement Center, SafeSpace, Samaritan Center for Homeless Families, Hibiscus Children’s Center, Camp Haven, Our Father’s Soup Kitchen, LifeNet4Families, Vietnam Veterans of Indian River County, United Against Poverty and the Sebastian Women’s Shelter.
“I grew up in New York City, and I’ve seen what homelessness can do to a person’s soul. I have seen people who were normal people with jobs and families, and then one thing happened. All it takes is one little disaster, and the next thing you know, you and your family could be out on the street,” said Shapiro.
For more information, visit verobeachsockdrive.com.
Photos by Joshua Kodis