Warming Hearts (and Feet): Linda Holtslander and her Preble Street Sock Drive

Tis the season for giving and Peaks Island-resident, and Preble Street volunteer extraordinaire, Linda Holtslander did something this year that reminded us all what it truly means to give back.

Linda rides our ferry across Casco Bay to volunteer at the social service agency multiple times throughout the week. She’s there so often that Preble Street’s Community Engagement Director, Dan, sometimes forgets she doesn’t actually work there.

According to the team over at Preble Street, socks are the most requested item by shelters across the country. Having warm, dry feet can have a significant impact on your health – both mental and physical.

Ray, Resource Development Assistant at Preble Street, said that many people who drop into the day shelter are hesitant about telling their story and connecting with someone. A case worker being able to offer a pair of socks can be an ice breaker – allowing the case worker to learn why this person is experiencing homelessness and what they can do to help.

Inspired by the relationships she’s seen built through such an exchange, for her 75th birthday, Linda decided to celebrate by running a sock drive for Preble Street, with the goal of collecting 500 pairs.

As is the case on all of the island communities, Peaks Islanders are a close-knit group. Word about Linda’s sock drive spread quickly across the island. Her neighbor made a “sock-o-meter” to track Linda’s progress and stationed it right near our ferry landing in front of the Ashmore Realty Office.

And while she only had one physical collection point on the island, as word got out about the drive, her friends and neighbors stopped her on the street to hand her socks and she would find her mailbox and porch were filled with socks every day. When her birthday arrived, her friends at Preble Street hosted a celebration for her and presented her with more than 100 pairs of socks.

So, how many did she end up collecting?

A staggering 1,556 pairs!

We worked with Linda and the folks at Preble Street to transport the socks to the mainland. In the midst of all this holiday hustle and bustle, it’s nice to think about Linda and her giving spirit. Her donation will impact hundreds of people who come through the shelter and truly demonstrates the power of the positive impact one person can have.

But, true to character, Linda doesn’t like taking credit; instead she praises her fellow islanders telling us that she lives by the motto “we all do better when we all do better.”

From time to time on our blog we’ll be featuring stories from island residents. Casco Bay Lines remains committed to fostering strong relationships with our island communities. If you have an interesting story, feel free to reach out to us.