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Navajo Nation First Lady Vikki Shirley, standing beside 1,407 pairs of socks, left, thanks the San Juan Rotary Club for donating the socks to children on the Navajo Nation at the club's meeting Tuesdsay afternoon.
FARMINGTON — Yellow socks, purple socks, black socks — 1,407 pairs to be exact, spilled from an array of boxes at the San Juan Rotary Club meeting Tuesday.

Navajo Nation First Lady Vikki Shirley accepted the donation of socks in every shade, size and color from the Rotary Club.

"A lot of children have a lot of need for socks ... socks might seem like a small thing, but kids are wondering what they look like in PE (physical education class)," she said. "We're going to give them out to children in remote areas. Those children are frequently the neediest."

For them, getting to school often means walking miles to the bus stop, and many are 100 miles or more from cities such as Farmington or Flagstaff, Ariz., making it harder to purchase personal items like socks, underwear, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Shirley accepts donations from many groups including Toys for Tots and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, but many come around Christmas time.

"This all started back in the fall, when the Navajo Nation First Lady came to speak," Rotary President Jill McQueary said. "She said the children of the Navajo Nation needed socks and underwear. We decided to focus on the socks."

Two rotary members, Mindy Smith and Frances Harrell, of the home care giver firm New Freedom Private Care Inc., mobilized donations by creating the Sock it to You! campaign.

"We thought, Let's have children help children,'" Smith said.


Students at Bloomfield School District brought in the bulk of the socks collected, supplemented by a $450 donation from Sam's Club and a $100 donation from Wal-Mart that helped pay for more socks and aquatic center passes as prizes for classes with the largest donation. New Freedom was the secondary sponsor.

"I want to thank the parents and families of the students in Bloomfield," Shirley said. "Bloomfield wanted to help."

She planned to bring the socks with her on the plane back to Window Rock, Ariz., then distribute them to needy children through the Navajo Nation Social Services. In particular, she pointed to the Bennett Freeze area. Because it was disputed by the Navajos and Hopis, no construction was allowed there until the moratorium was lifted last year. The area, she said, is still in need of building materials for houses, among other items.

"Thank you for caring and sharing," she said. "I appreciate it on behalf of the children."

Lindsay Whitehurst: