It’s not Christmas yet, but now is the time to start thinking about Santa Socks. Veterans and veteran supporters started the Santa Socks program in 2008. It is all about bringing cheer and honor to veterans of all ages in Missoula and Ravalli County. According to Susan “Santa Baby” Reneau, several organizations have already donated this year.

“The VFW Post 209 gave a very generous check,” Reneau said. “We’ve received a wonderful check from Walmart, and gift cards from Costco and Target. Cabela’s in Missoula, on Brooks Street, is matching socks for socks. If you go into Cabela’s and buy a pair of socks, they will match it with crew socks for our Santa Socks Program.”

Between mid-December and mid-January, “magical elves” personally deliver Santa Socks to veterans at nursing homes, homeless shelters and many other places. Reneau said she’s been giving away santa socks for quite some time, but there was one moment in particular that she will never forget.

“We had two young marines helping us as magical elves and we went into Riverside Nursing Home,” Reneau said. “This very elderly and very sick marine was sitting in a wheelchair. He was wearing his marine corps sweatshirt and his marine hat. These two marines went up to him and very ceremoniously presented the santa sock to him with a knitted hat.”

The man looked up from his sunken head and saluted back to the other two marines. The man stood up from his wheelchair, placed his hand over his heart, and starting singing From the Halls of Montezuma.

“His nurse was freaking out because Robert had not stood up for a very long time,” Reneau said. “She said, ‘Robert, what has come over you’ and he said, ‘I always stand for a marine’. Then he fell back and said, ‘I fought at the battle of Iwo Jima and at Okinawa. I have received many medals, but this santa sock means more to me than those medals’.”

Last year, they delivered 767 Santa Socks to local veterans. Reneau says they really need people to donate so they can hand out over 1,000 this year.

Cash donations are also appreciated and need to be made out to the VFW Post 209 Auxiliary. All donations must be received by December 1. If you would like to donate, visit KGVO’s office at 3250 South Reserve Street.

Cash donations in check form can also be sent to VFW Post 209 Auxiliary, Attention Santa Socks, 245 W. Main Street, Missoula, MT 59802.

Delivery volunteers are ALWAYS needed.  If you can donate time to do this, please contact the North Pole at 719-661-4037 or email Santa Baby at bluemountain@montana.com.