The nationwide Socks for Seniors project has one goal this Christmas: Brighten the life of a senior citizen.

The nonprofit service project works with individuals and organizations throughout the country to gather socks to be distributed in local nursing homes and to local shut-ins and those in need.

"On the surface, a pair of socks can seem pretty insignificant," said Socks for Seniors founder Jamie Coyne, based in Columbus, Ohio.

"But over and above keeping feet warm, what the program does is it creates an interaction with and for folks who normally wouldn't have that interaction."

He noted that while the holidays are an exciting time for most people and filled with holiday parties and cheer, this time of year can be difficult for senior citizens who might not have friends or family in the area.

"The holidays can be a depressing time, especially for seniors. Normally they're only interacting with employees at the facility. They might not have a lot of family that visits them," he said. "We'd love to start a program in your area that helps local seniors. We're looking for someone to volunteer. It doesn't cost any money and very little time, and it can make a big difference. It can really brighten someone's day."

Because there are currently no Socks for Seniors drives in our area, Coyne is seeking groups or individuals to organize a local sock drive and distribute their collection to local nursing homes and shut-ins.

Socks of all sizes and styles are welcome. While the organization does allow groups to collect traditional "grip" slippers and socks and tube socks, they encourage donations of fun holiday styles.

"It's fun. The seniors gravitate toward the funky socks, the ones with patterns on them or the pairs that have stuffed reindeers on the toes," said Coyne. "The socks become a conversation piece. It gives them a way to engage conversationally, for people who might not normally be engaged.

Socks can be wrapped as presents or distributed unwrapped so that seniors can pick their own pair.

To start a Socks for Seniors sock drive, go to www.socksforseniors.com [1] to register or call (614) 239-9688 to register and request more information. After registering your drive, you will receive more information and tips about collecting and distributing the socks.

"We keep in touch with local organizers and explain the basics of starting a program. It starts with one box, one location," said Coyne, noting that most individuals pair up with a local school, church or Scout group.

National franchise owners have gotten involved in past years, setting up a collecting box at each of their restaurants or coffee shops.

"With all of the negativity going on, it's something that people can be involved in that's positive and doesn't cost a lot of money. It doesn't take a lot of time," he added. "It's a very unique project. Even people collecting seem to get a lot out of it."