During the COVID pandemic, Elle Gianelli wanted to bring joy to individuals living in nursing homes, so she devised a novel approach to do it.
Born from her love of wearing silly socks on the golf course, the now-16-year-old founded Socks4Seniors, raising funds through GoFundMe to purchase and deliver bright, patterned socks and thoughtful notes to those in assisted living facilities across the country, with a goal of reaching people in all 50 states. (To date, she has covered 40.)
“The impact is astounding for such a tiny commitment of her time,” says her mother, Rachelle, who assists with the project. “She wants to put a smile on these seniors’ cheeks one pair of socks at a time.”
It all started in early 2020, when Elle and Rachelle went on a field trip to a nearby nursing facility for an arts and crafts program…
Rachelle recounts that “the whole world shut down” the next week. “We were sitting there wondering, ‘What are those people doing?’
They are confined to their rooms with no visitors or activities.’ Then it occurred to us to send them the socks.”
Elle started by scattering parcels around her hometown of Stockton, California, until she and her mother decided to “make a geography lesson out of it,” Rachelle laughs…
So they identified an assisted living center in each state to contact via social media, and the rest is history.
“She has requests from all around the world,” Rachelle recalls, adding that Elle maintains contact with some of the seniors she’s met.
“Because, tragically, residents in these areas shift over time, there is always a need. And, COVID aside, we’ve discovered that some elders never have visitors.
It’s been eye-opening, and it demonstrates how a small amount of our time can make such a big effect.”
Though mom and daughter have no plans to expand their donating beyond socks, as their giving expands, they are looking into additional inventive ways to donate. Rachelle’s pride in her daughter develops as a result…
“Elle has always been the giver,” Rachelle explains. “It’s simply something about her. I’m overjoyed.”