As the holiday season begins this week, the rapidly growing SoldierSocks.com and SoldierSanta.com, will hold several drives and collections throughout the region including Darien. For complete information, visit www.SolidierSocks.com.

The collection locations in Southwestern Connecticut include: Fairfield: Southport Volunteer Fire Department, The Russell Agency (Southport) and the Fairfield Arts Council; Stamford: Stamford Police Department, The Stamford Fire Department; The Yerwood Center and Hope Street Pharmacy; Darien; Darien Town Hall; Redding: Redding Police Department; Shelton: Shelton Police Department; Darien: Noroton Heights Fire Department; New Canaan: New Balance of New Canaan and Higganum: Higganum Pharmacy.

SoldierSocks was the brain child of Stamford resident Chris Meek who launched the 501-c3 organization after learning that troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq lacked basic necessities such as socks and baby wipes. Serving under harsh weather conditions and in remote areas, troops need to change socks frequently to keep their hygiene while they lack access to running water and washing facilities.

"It always amazes me to see how generous individuals are and their willingness to give to servicemen and women especially during wartime," Meek said. "People can simply give a tax-deductible donation through our website in any denomination and we will purchase socks and baby wipes or individuals can drop off supplies at the many collection locations we have."

During the initial collection in 2009 with the partnership of Stamford's Hope Street Pharmacy and FootLocker, Meek's garage was literally flooded from wall to wall with supplies and he amassed his friends and neighbors to help sort and box items to eventually ship overseas.

"It was remarkable to look at all of the boxes and realize it was the generous culmination of friends, neighbors and community members banding together to assist our troops who give our country the ultimate sacrifice," Meek said. "Today, SoldierSocks receives weekly calls from around the country from church and civic groups to elementary and college students wanting to hold a drive."

Since its inception less than two years ago, SoldierSocks has grown leaps and bounds and is now a nation-wide organization that has shipped about 13 tons of socks and baby wipes to scores of units. SoilderSocks has garnered tremendous national and regional support in its home base of Connecticut. In 2009, nationally syndicated (New York City-based) radio show Elvis Duran and the Morning Show sponsored a drive and featured Meek and SoliderSocks during the popular morning drive show. Additionally, SoldierSocks was one of the charities Connecticut's State Legislature collected for during the 2009 holiday season. Additionally, it has been lauded by elected and business leaders including U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Connecticut's Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele.