“I love that there are idealists all over the world making a difference in their communities,” says Dori Cocoros, the mind behind the month-long Idealist Day GotSOCKS sock drive for people experiencing homelessness. A native New Yorker and self-described “born idealist,” Dori has worn many hats in her life—aspiring actress, camp counselor, waitress, bartender, restaurant manager, product manager, project manager, corporate trainer, and global sales & marketing professional in the Fortune 100 market space—but in January 2016 she put it all behind her in favor of doing more good. “I very much want to change the world for the better, and I decided to apply my diverse and valuable skills to the nonprofit sector.”
That’s when Dori met Idealist. “I read [Idealist Founder] Ami’s story in Medium and loved his worldview of sock-sharers and sock-stealers!” Dori remembers. “I was inspired and instantly drawn to the idea of Idealist Days, to connect with other like-hearted idealists, and to make a difference in the world.” That was all Dori needed to get moving. To talk to Dori is to be enveloped in her energetic and determined disposition, so it will come as no shock that once she got involved with Idealist, she dug in deep. “I attended every planning meeting, Idealist Day, and speaker event I could make,” she says. Dori also began thinking of potential moves—and possible connections—to start effecting change and doing good. “I'm a connector by nature, and Idealist Days provide the platform and opportunity to connect to something bigger as well as to each other.”
One of those connections was with Guardians of the Space, a Meetup/Facebook community founded by a fellow idealist, Stefan Day. “I've known Stefan and been connected with Guardians for several years,” Dori says. “Stefan attended the Feb 11, 2019, Idealist Organizing Workshop in New York City with Ben Yee and was inspired to action. Within days, we were collaborating on a sock drive.” Socks are the most requested items at homeless shelters, and usually those in the shortest supply. This glaring need, along with Ami’s “sock-sharers” story, was the inspiration for Dori’s GotSOCKS drive. The idea also gave her an opportunity to make use of some of her other connections. In 2012 Dori had met Susan Lee, the founder of SockItToEm, a nonprofit based in Colorado dedicated to collecting and distributing socks to support those experiencing homelessness. Dori reached out to Susan, who enthusiastically said yes, and SockItToEm became a partner in Dori’s sock drive, providing sign templates as well as organizing and marketing ideas. The project was now well on its way, but there was one more connection Dori wanted to make.
“I'm a connector by nature, and Idealist Days provide the platform and opportunity to connect to something bigger as well as to each other.”
“To me, Idealist Day is a monthly rhythm of community service and sock-sharing!” Dori says, and so fusing her sock drive to Idealist Days was a natural step. “We decided to partner with Idealist because of the inspiration and existing network. We had extensive support from [Idealist] HQ, as well as the New York City, Queens, and Northern New Jersey Idealist Groups throughout the drive. They helped collect socks, promote the event, and we are all cheerleaders for each other!”
Dori launched her sock drive on Idealist Day 3/3 and planned to promote and hold collection events throughout the month leading up to 4/4. Utilizing her varied project management and marketing skills, Dori made sure to cast as wide a net as she could. “We used signs, word of mouth, Facebook events, and Instagram stories for promotion,” she remembers. “We included signage acknowledging all our partners, including Idealist, with the socks we donated to the shelter networks.” The drive included planning meetings and collection events at various locations in New York City, as well as stationary sock collection locations throughout New York and New Jersey. Dori kept track of every detail throughout the process, always thinking ahead to make the most of her drive. “I kept a spreadsheet with all the collection and donation dates and numbers. We also took lots of photos and videos for promotion and acknowledgment.”
By 4/4, Dori’s GotSOCKS drive had collected nearly 2,000 pairs of socks for those experiencing homelessness in New York and New Jersey. In her mind, however, this was a trial run. She is already thinking of ways to improve her methods and has begun looking towards planning future Idealist Day sock drives. “This drive was more of a sustained effort that spanned 6 weeks. Next time I would limit the collection events, consolidate the distributions, and celebrate successes more! I'm creating a timeline to streamline our Fall Sock Drive and considering which Idealist Days to incorporate…10/10?” Knowing Dori, even these plans are only the beginning.
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