Portrait of a Giver: Tanner Eaves
Just when you start to despair about the moral compass – or lack thereof—of the next generation coming along, you meet a kid like Tanner Eaves, and hope is restored.
Tanner came by the Service Center this week with a large box stuffed full of new socks that he had collected during his annual Holiday Sock Drive. A senior at Lake Mary High School, Tanner started the drive 8 years ago, when he was in 5th grade.
“I remember telling my mother I was bored,” he says. So, together they came up with the idea for a charity that would collect and distribute new pairs of socks, which are seldom donated, but the most needed clothing item at shelters. Tanner’s family is intimately familiar with the needs of those less fortunate, having adopted his younger brother through a children’s shelter where they volunteered.
Tanner also likes the low entry threshold for their charity. “Donating socks is something everyone can do. A kid can wash the car, earn a few dollars, and then go with his parents to choose some colorful socks to donate. It’s easy to be involved,” he says.
They set about contacting local schools and businesses and asking them to help publicize the effort and collect donations.
That first year, Tanner set his goal at collecting 100 pairs. The Eaves were amazed when they raked in 1,200. But that was just the beginning.
The project has snowballed over the last eight years, particularly after being featured in the Huffington Post and on Fox News. Now, they have a Facebook page and website.
Tanner Eaves Socks It To Us!
This holiday, Tanner’s Holiday Sock Drive piled up 18,000 pairs. Most donations are made locally, but they also receive shipments from donors around the country.
After a team of volunteers counts and sorts the socks by size and style, Tanner delivers them to local charities, including Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida.
Suffice it to say, Tanner isn’t bored anymore.
Ericka Dickerson, BGCCF Director of Club Operations, says the sock donations are particularly welcome. “People love to donate toys at the holidays, and that’s wonderful. But necessities like new socks and underwear are expensive for families, and wear out fast. Our families are so grateful when the kids come home from Club with new socks!”
Next year, Tanner hopes to attend college at the University of North Florida, and may hand down the project to some of his volunteers.
Regardless, he’s left a big, er, footprint on the community. The socks of a community servant like Tanner will be hard to fill.