BUT STEW AND DEBBY WANTED TO DO MORE
MEET GRANDMA LUCY
In the early 1980’s Grandma Lucy (Lucille Rozenberg) began giving socks and underwear as gifts at Christmas. Every person sitting around the tree, children, in-laws, grandchildren, and even Christmas guests, received a package of socks and underwear.
"I remember getting socks & undies from Grandma Lucy each Christmas. It is
wonderful how this tradition of love & generosity continues & grows through
-Michelle, Lucy's granddaughter
When Grandma Lucy passed away in 2000, everyone, including three of her young grandsons, asked the question, “Where are we going to get our socks and underwear from now?”
Recognizing that some folks truly did not have the means to buy these basic needs, Grandma Lucy’s family decided that, in her honor, each family member would bring socks and underwear in their own sizes to Christmas. All the gifts were given to a non-profit.
CONTINUING THE TRADITION
In 2014, Grandma Lucy’s daughter, Debby Shepard, and her husband Stew, decided to add to their annual Christmas donation. They put out a call via Facebook for contributions. They collected socks and underwear through the month of January, and every January since.
The Drawer is the brainchild of Stew and Debby. The Shepard’s organized the first “Undie Sunday” in 2014. One Sunday the members of their home church, friends, and family donated new socks and underwear with the intent to distribute the collected items to needy men, women, and children in the community.
Donated items were collected and then distributed directly to and in the community. In 2014, a total of 1,417 pairs of new socks and underwear were collected, with items distributed to Loaves and Fishes (at Holy Rosary Church), The Link, and Union Gospel Mission.
In subsequent years, with the devoted involvement and leadership of our community and additional social media posts publicizing “Undie Sunday,” donations and distributions increased. In fact, in the three years following the initial 2014 appeal, donations almost tripled! During collection periods, anonymous donations showed up on the Shepard’s doorstep. Folks from as far away as Hawaii asked if they could contribute financially and additional churches asked if they might participate. All these efforts benefited an even wider list of recipients, adding product going to Shiloh Temple, Dakota Woodlands, The Robert Lewis House, and more.
Each year the number of donated items grew. By 2017, the Shepards collected 4,131 items in one month.
Stew and Debby Shepard
Stew and Debby's home church during one of the first Undie Sundays.
Lucy and her five children
Grandma Lucy with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren
By 2017, the enthusiastic response of givers along with the predictable and growing needs in the community motivated the Shepards to officially name their effort The Drawer and apply to become a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
Stew and Debby have passed on their vision of providing support, building relationships, and distributing new socks and underwear to help those in need of warmth and dignity.
They believe in the power of community to act in the world and embrace every person without exception. Their beliefs have become the beliefs of everyone associated with The Drawer.
What began as a few gifts from Grandma Lucy is now an organization that includes a leadership team, return volunteers of all ages, and community and corporate sponsors, all providing dignity and warmth through items as simple as socks and underwear.
We invite you to be a part of The Drawer.
Volunteers range in age and abilities
HOW IT WORKS
Socks and underwear are collected during a collection event, hosted by a faith community, service group, workplace, or family. A faith community often hosts an "Undie Sunday," in which congregation and community members donate new, in the package, socks and undergarments.
Because product is distributed evenly and fairly, the socks and underwear need to be sorted into groups of three. In a breakdown event, volunteers work in groups to remove product from packaging, match up sizes, bundle in sets, and label. This is a fun opportunity for volunteers of all ages. Sometimes the collection event host also hosts the breakdown event, but not always.
After all of the socks and underwear are properly prepared, a distribution event ensures that the products get into the hands of those who need them. Distribution of product can occur during a community meal such as Loaves and Fishes, on the streets, or when transported to a women's shelter.