In spite of a pandemic that keeps families and friends from their loved ones separated in nursing homes, Ethan Jeffus ensured the continuation of the Third Annual Warming Elder Tootsies project which collected and donated over 500 socks to nursing home residents in Minden and Ruston.
Jeffus spearheaded the project back in 2018 during his time as president of Minden’s Junior Civitan Club. “The club had a long tradition of caroling at nursing homes around the holidays. Since becoming president of that club we challenged ourselves to do more. We then asked what could we do that would meet a need at nursing homes and engage our community,” said Jeffus.
“That holiday season the Warming Elders Tootsies sock drive was initiated. Throughout the years of gifting new socks to nursing homes across northern Louisiana, it has been continually expressed the real need that this project meets. It’s as simple as socks.”
Traditionally the socks are collected through a variety of contributors including local businesses, groups, schools, and individuals who want to give back. In previous years competitions were held for local downtown businesses who strived to collect the most socks. This year to take cautionary measures those competitions did not take place along with other cautionary measures.
“The collection of socks looked very different this year. The entirety of socks collected was done privately through groups and individuals who’ve participated in the project in past years and individuals just learning of the project who wish to continue to see this need met,” said Jeffus.
“Typically the new socks are gifted to residents during a Christmas party thrown for them. Although that is not possible this year new socks were still delivered to nursing homes and then gifted to the residents by employees, ensuring the safety of the residents.”
Jeffus spoke further of the role this project plays specifically in the year of 2020 and the unique challenges that this year presented. “I believe 2020 exemplified the importance of this project. In 2018 when this project was initiated it was meeting a real need for nursing home residents and now that need is even larger. Due to the change experienced this year and the safety precautions in place, many nursing homes are limiting visitors if visitors are admitted at all. This pandemic is leaving the majority of nursing home residents isolated during the supposed to be most wonderful time of the year,” said Jeffus.
“This project was initiated to spread holiday cheer because I saw not all nursing home residents had families or loved ones to spend the holidays with. This year gifting new socks to residents is a simple reminder that although we are apart this year, people still see and care about them.”