Niles, Dowagiac schools host “Socktober” donation drives

Published 3:49 pm Friday, October 21, 2022

NILES — Niles High School will be facing off against rival Dowagiac in football tonight, but more than one competition will be on the line. 

While Niles and Dowagiac will be playing each other on the gridiron, the two school districts will also be going head-to-head to see who can collect the most pairs of socks as part of the annual “Socktober” donation drive. This annual tradition encourages students to donate socks, which are later distributed to homeless shelters in the community.

Niles High School English teacher Dustin Cornelius is overseeing the donations for the school. Cornelius is a former Dowagiac teacher who helped start Socktober in the district. Since coming to Niles last year, Cornelius has started an annual Socktober campaign and contacted Dowagiac about incorporating it into rivalry week.

Due to the difference in enrollment size between the two districts, the results will consist of the total enrollment of each district divided by the number of socks donated. Last year, NCS donated more than 2,000 pairs of socks, and together, NCS and Dowagiac donated a total of 3,300 pairs. While there are only bragging rights and goodwill as the prize, Cornelius is challenging Niles students to donate 3,000 pairs of socks.

The results of the competition will be announced during the football game, which takes place at 7 p.m. at St. Joseph High School.

“A lot of kids at Niles care about the community and want to get involved,” he said. “Our kids genuinely care and teachers have stressed you should give what you can give. … A big push from our staff is empathy and just trying to serve other people. The administration wants us to be part of the community. It’s a mission (Superintendent Dan Applegate) preaches all the time.

We’re proud of our kids and proud of our community. We have a lot of leaders here. Impressed by the maturity of some of our kids.

“There are philanthropic events like this all the time. That’s the nature of our students here. They’re good kids.”