SFJ

Socks for Japan 日本語

Jason’s speech  Jason’s two-year remembrance op-ed







Socks for Japan is no longer active, but we keep this site the way it appeared during our operation so that survivors, donors, and volunteers can look back at how the world helped us help Japan. We are so grateful.

Letters from Survivors | Letters to Survivors | Volunteer | Email List

Here’s a way you can help Japan, directly and meaningfully. There are many places to donate money, and that’s a wonderful thing to do, but direct aid is cherished by survivors because it shows them that you personally care. My office location is perfect for a direct-aid operation — close enough to the damage zone that we can physically get there to help, but far enough that mail delivery is working.

Guidelines:

  • Send only new socks. All human beings are comforted by a fresh, clean pair of socks. Other advantages socks offer this operation: they’re light, their sizes are easy, they don’t break, people need lots of them in disastrous times away from home, and people can keep them forever to remember that somebody from far away cared. Please do not send any other items of clothing, food, etc. Just socks, but go ahead and choose nice ones that will brighten somebody’s day. You might receive a discount by showing our letter to your local store manager.
  • Put each pair in a sealed plastic bag. Want your socks to find needy feet asap? So do we! Please speed up our processing by taking socks out of bulk packaging, removing clasps or ties binding them together, and putting each pair in its own sealed clear plastic bag. Waterproof bags, such as Ziploc brand, are useful to people without homes. They serve a dual purpose: delivering socks in good shape, and providing a way for people to keep items dry.
  • Enclose a care letter. Japanese people treasure letters, especially ones from foreigners. Survivors of the 1995 Hanshin quake in Kobe said that care letters were among the most uplifting items they received. So, please enclose a copy of your letter with each pair of socks in a plastic bag. For help composing and translating your letter, see our care letter creation page.

    Image of steps to a perfect package
  • Label, compress, and seal. You should now have a pair of socks and your care letter in each plastic bag. One more helpful item: a label. Either write on the outside of the bag or insert into each bag a piece of paper identifying one of these categories: man, woman, boy, girl, baby. (We no longer need any socks for children.) Once that’s done, squeeze out excess air to make the bag as small as possible, then seal it shut. This preparation will make our inventory management and distribution a cinch!
  • Write your email address noticeably on the package. The most efficient way for us to keep in touch with you, and track the status of your package once we receive it, is via your email address. Please write it on the outside of your package so we can communicate with you without opening the package.
  • Write “Urgent: Relief Supplies” boldly on the package. This will avoid import duties, guarantee priority handling at customs, and achieve rapid processing through hubs. Packages are arriving more quickly than usual. Everybody is dedicated to getting this nation back on its feet — in clean socks!

Please ship your package to my office:

Jason Kelly
Plaza Kei 101
Wakamatsu-cho 615-6
Sano, Tochigi 327-0846
Japan

EMAIL: PHONE: +81 501-014-7773

Thank you for your support! When your package arrives, we’ll send a note to you at the email address you wrote on it.

______________________________

FAQ

WHY SOCKS?
Several reasons. Many of the survivors ended up barefoot after fleeing in a hurry. In the disaster zone, feet get wet and then extra cold at night, especially in currently freezing weather. People often forget about socks in favor of more obvious items like blankets and jackets. Receiving a new, fresh pair of socks provides a moment of comfort. If those socks arrive with a caring note as well, it’s very heartening for survivors. If you’ve ever been stuck in a pair of wet, cold socks or no socks at all, perhaps you remember how soothing it felt to pull on a warm, dry pair. Survivors have already requested socks on TV news.

Socks aren’t primary support, but a token of care that will last beyond their small mid-crisis comfort. All supplies exist here in Japan, so we wanted something that delivered meaning past the need of the moment, something more special than what people get from emergency teams and government supplies. Military socks are not the most comfortable. Small joys matter. A March 17 CNN article observed about the survivors: “It was the little things that helped them retain their sanity as an end to crisis still seemed distant.” The next day, an AP story said a city hall worker reported his town needing “gas, vegetables, socks, underwear, wet wipes and anti-bacterial lotion.” Most importantly, shelters themselves are requesting socks.

Still True! WHAT TYPE OF SOCKS SHOULD I SEND?
Good ones! Demand is in this proportion: 50 percent women, 50 percent men. We no longer need any socks for children or babies. Everybody prefers color over white because white gets dirty quickly in shelters. Focus on quality, not quantity. The number of people donating takes care of quantity. Make your socks and letters count for the individual survivors receiving them. We’d much rather receive 50 gorgeous pairs of socks properly packaged one-pair-per-sealed-bag with a wonderful letter, than 500 pairs of low-quality, white socks completely unprepared without letters.

DO I NEED TO FIND SPLIT-TOE SOCKS?
No. Despite the image created by ninja movies, most Japanese socks are of the regular variety. The split-toe, called tabi, is seen most commonly as a carpenter or construction worker boot, called jika-tabi. Regular socks are fine.

ANY TIPS FOR THE CARE LETTER?
People love to see a photo of who sent their socks and letter, so include one if you can. A popular way is by printing your photo directly onto your letter. Another way is to print your photo and glue it to your letter, if it’s handwritten. For help with the message and translation, see our care letter creation page.

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO SHIP?
From the United States, the Postal Service is the most economical, and its one-week delivery time is fine for the extended operation under way. People are shipping every day, so we’re receiving a steady supply of new socks. There’s no need to pay extra to get yours here quickly. Japan’s country price group is 3. Packages sent via First-Class Mail International cost $10.76 for one pound, $17.64 for two, $24.52 for three, and $31.40 for four. One donor wrote: “Priority Mail flat-rate shipping is per box, so if you box each size and gender separately, you will be paying a LOT more than if you bag them separately and then put the bags into one box.”

From Jiun: “Airfreight cost is calculated by actual weight or dimensional weight (WxLxH/5000), which means the tighter you compress/pack your socks the cheaper they will be to send. Vacuum bags are the best way to compress socks. A 20cm x 20cm x 20cm box of socks might weigh only 2.2 lbs, but its dimensional weight is 3.5 lbs.”

Other tips: from Canada use the Canada Post calculator to find what’s best or try Greyhound and Takkyubin per Joanne’s suggestion, from China use eBay for free shipping, from Malaysia use FedEx or POS Malaysia, more to come

ARE YOU ASKING FOR MONEY?
No.

WHAT IF I REALLY WANT TO DONATE MONEY?
Then we’ll gratefully accept and put every penny toward taking socks and letters to survivors as quickly as possible. Please see our donation page.

MAY I COME TO SANO TO HELP YOU?
Yes, but please read our volunteer info page.

COULD THIS BE FRAUDULENT?
Not unless you think I go through a lot of socks.

CAN YOUR TEAM HANDLE THE VOLUME?
We already did. This concern is left over from when we first began, on March 13, just after the March 11 disaster. For fun, we’re leaving the answer here: Yes. We have plenty of people and plenty of space. We’re using my office, and borrowed a nearby vacant accounting office as well. Socks and letters are small. When taken out of boxes and put in compressible bags, socks can be packed into ordinary vehicles by the thousands. Here’s the accounting office, prior to our moving in:

Front of Yamaguchi accounting office

Want to witness the major transformation of that quiet office into our sock processing supercenter powered by volunteers? See Angels of the Earth.

HOW OFTEN DO YOU DISTRIBUTE SOCKS TO SURVIVORS?
In Phase I, we distributed twice a week, on Sundays and Wednesdays. In our current Phase II, we distribute less frequently and at a slower pace to spend time with survivors. You can see our schedule on the volunteer info page.

WILL YOU LET ME KNOW HOW SURVIVORS ARE DOING?
Yes. Even after we stop distributing socks, we’ll visit survivors and follow up with the ones featured in our reports. To stay informed, please join our list.

421 Comments

  1. Liv
    Posted December 10, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Jason!

    I’m really glad this project is still going strong! Anyway, on May 16 or 17 this year, I sent you a pair of socks from the Philippines but I never did get a confirmation letter for that. Did you get it fine? Anyhow, I’m thinking it’s about time I ought to send some fresh pairs over…

    Hope to hear back from you soon!

  2. pablo giron
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Dear Jason

    Several months ago I send a package containing socks collected from my students and families at Oyster-Adams bilingual school in Washington DC. USA. I also include in each package a letter for the great people of Japan. I have no heard from you and would like to know if you received the package. Please let me know so i will follow up with the post office since I send the package registered.

    Thanks.

    Pablo

  3. Mell
    Posted March 10, 2012 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    If you want to touch the past, touch a rock. If you want to touch the present, touch a flower. If you want to touch the future, touch a life. ~Author Unknown

    Jason,
    Thank you and your team for the kindness and dedication given to the wonderful people of Japan.
    God Bless,
    Mell, USA

    • Posted March 10, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      You’re most welcome, Mell, and thank you and all the other donors who sustained this effort.

  4. Jennie and Ross
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Hi Jason,

    We remain most grateful for your incredible work during the crisis, but I am a little confused, are you still distributing socks, or has your great work ended? If you are still distributing then we will send more.

    Awaiting your confirmation,

    Jennie and Ross Anderson

    • Posted April 22, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jennie and Ross,

      Thank you for the support! Our final distribution was on March 11, 2012, the one-year anniversary. I have yet to post a report about that trip, but will do so.

      The journey is not over, though. We’re planning an online memorial of the project that lists the names of all donors and volunteers, summarizes lessons we learned with a tipsheet for future volunteer aid operations, and so on. I’ll send a link to everybody when it’s ready.

      Thank you, again!
      Jason

      • jennie and ross
        Posted May 7, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

        Hi Jason,
        What a wonderful idea.
        You and your team have done an amazing job.
        Through your kindness we have been able to express support for the survivors, we will never forget your initiative Jason, you are a very special soul.

  5. Sam
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jason,
    I’d like to do a presentation for school on your Socks for Japan project. Would it be okay if I included some of the photos from your site and credited you? Thanks.

    • Posted May 14, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      By all means, Sam. Please send whatever materials you have my way. I’d love to see your presentation.

      Good luck,
      Jason

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