Socktoberfest brings community, homeless together

EVERETT — It’s a party, with hot food and live music. It’s an evening to meet neighbors. And it’s a place to get — or give — a new pair of socks.

“It’s a beautiful thing that happens when our guests come through those doors. We all sit at tables together. We visit,” said Debbie Paget, who helped launch the first Socktoberfest at Trinity Lutheran College two years ago.

Since 2011, the downtown Everett college has hosted Socktoberfest, a one-night event that welcomes all, but especially the area’s homeless people. This year’s Socktoberfest is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 27 in the Trinity Lutheran College Commons, 2802 Wetmore Ave.

Paget, 59, is an Everett Public Library technician who has often talked with homeless people at the downtown library. Socktoberfest grew from a question.

“The only thing I could think to do was ask, ‘What do you need?’ When they said socks, it was very humbling,” Paget said. “How many times have I been without socks? Never.”

On Tuesday, a clothesline hung over the entrance to the college’s Brammer Chapel as students prepared for their weekly worship service. Socks hanging from the line are labeled with suggested amounts for monetary donations.

The Rev. Erik Samuelson, pastor at Trinity Lutheran College, said Socktoberfest is a chance for students to live their faith. “A lot of students have never had an experience like this,” he said. The college has 201 students this year. Many are helping with Socktoberfest.

Samuelson, who teaches a course called Vocation and Formation, encourages students to get involved in service. Trinity freshman Alexis Wait, 18, has been out putting up Socktoberfest signs and bringing sock bins to businesses and organizations. Small cards inviting people to Socktoberfest will also be handed out on the streets.

More than 200 people attended Socktoberfest 2012. Paget said at least 1,000 pairs of socks have been given away each year.

Leading Trinity students in the effort is Sister Liz Colver, a graduate of Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry and this year an intern teaching at Trinity Lutheran College. Colver, 32, is part of the Deaconess Community of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

“Worship is really a dress rehearsal for how we live the rest of the week,” she said. “This event encourages students to recognize the value of all different kinds of community.”

Socktoberfest is a joint project of the college and the Emmaus Community, a mission arm of Everett’s Our Savior’s Lutheran Church. Sean Bendickson, 35, is an Emmaus Community member, musician and part of the Our Savior’s worship team. He and Paget worked together to organize Socktoberfest.

Donations of new socks, bratwurst and root beer have come from area Lutheran churches and local businesses and organizations, including Scuttlebutt Brewing Co., Immaculate Conception &Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, the Everett chapter of Soroptimist International and Rotary Club of Everett-Port Gardner.

New at this year’s Socktoberfest will be 250 pairs of shoes donated by Redeeming Soles, a Seattle charity, and a mobile shower facility. Frank Fargo and his wife, Louise, will bring their custom trailer, which regularly visits meal programs in Snohomish County to provide showers to homeless people.

The Emmaus Community and Trinity also team up to host a summer ice cream social and an event called Rides of March, where free bus tickets are distributed.

“A lot of folks have done sock drives, coat drives, that’s nothing new,” Bendickson said. “What gives Socktoberfest a unique flavor, we make an event out of it, and turn it into a gathering place for all kinds of people.”

“This connects people as people, not as a service project,” Colver added.

Paget, who asked the question that launched Socktoberfest, has a special memory of Samuelson’s blessing that first year. “He basically said, when our guests arrived, it’s not us and them. We are all one,” she said.

Those guests, Paget said, “are as much, if not more, a blessing to us than anything we’re doing for them.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Socktoberfest

Socktoberfest is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 27 at Trinity Lutheran College, 2802 Wetmore Ave., Everett. All are welcome at the event that provides a hot meal, live music and new socks to people in need. New socks are being collected at the college and these Everett locations: Cafe Zippy, 2811 Wetmore Ave.; Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 215 Mukilteo Blvd.; Central Lutheran Church, 2702 Rockefeller Ave.; Trinity Lutheran Church, 2324 Lombard Ave.; Immaculate Conception &Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, 2508 Hoyt Ave.; Rotary Club of Everett-Port Gardner at Everett Golf &Country Club, 1500 52nd St. SE.

Information: www.socktoberfest.org.

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