For the fourth consecutive Christmas season, the Leach Public Library in Wahpeton is celebrating giving.

The Sock Tree, which allows community members and visitors the opportunity to give to Three Rivers Crisis Center, opens Friday, Nov. 20. Collection methods are different this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“Donations will be accepted in the library’s outdoor book drop, our big silver box by the gazebo on the library’s west sidewalk,” Library Director Melissa Bakken said. “Items will be collected many times during each day.”

The Leach Public Library is currently closed to scheduled visits by appointment. Until further notice, the library is only offering curbside service.

“What better way to make use our our book drop?” Bakken asked.

New packaged socks of all sizes and for all genders will be accepted. Donations will be accepted through Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020. Any questions can be directed to the Leach Public Library at 701-642-5732.

Susan Rittenour, director of Three Rivers Crisis Center, reminds the public that many of her clients have experienced domestic violence.

“When they need to relocate and start over, a lot of times there are families who are leaving behind their possessions. The donations given to us through the Sock Tree help victims start over in a safe place. It’s pretty unique,” Rittenour said.

Nearly 2,000 pairs of socks have been collected since 2017. A total of 312 pairs were collected the first year, followed by 556 pairs in 2018 and 887 pairs donated in 2019. Last year saw increases in the amount of women’s and children’s socks donated.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if we had another record-breaker?” Rittenour asked. “It would be very exciting if that could happen. We do know that with everything that people are going through in 2020, it’s harder to donate.”

It has been an extraordinary year and whatever can be given will be well-appreciated, Bakken said. As early as this summer, she already received Sock Tree donations.

“I think there’s always a need for something as simple as a pair of socks. When people are in a crisis situation, whether it’s an emergency or domestic violence, it’s probably one of the things they don’t think about that they need the most. When our community is giving, we have something we can give the crisis center,” Bakken said.

While the general public might not be able to see the Sock Tree up close, Bakken said the Leach Public Library will continue to give updates and post photos on its Facebook page. In 2019, a man’s scarf, hat and mittens were also donated.

“Over the years, we’ve seen that when we provide the socks, the kids are super-excited that they get to pick our their own,” Rittenour said. “For the adults, it’s — when you think you’re all alone, and you realize that we’re here to help families like yours, that the community is standing behind us — it’s touching. We know that domestic violence does exist and these donations can help.”

Leach Public Library is located at 417 Second Ave. N. in Wahpeton. For more information about Three Rivers Crisis Center, its services and how you can help, call the center at 701-642-2115 or visit 509 Dakota Ave., Wahpeton.

Look to Daily News for coverage of holiday events in the Twin Towns Area.

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