Project Warm Feet broke records this year, as the yearly charity drive led by the staff members of the Battle of Richmond Battlefield Park gathered a whopping 4,207 pairs of socks this year to donate to needy people.
The project was created by Battle of Richmond Visitors Center Curator Philip Seyfrit, who hoped to educate while also helping the needy.
"It can tie in our nation's history with our Civil War to today. When you read letters from Civil War soldiers - it doesn't matter if they're blue or grey - they ask for people to send socks. Everybody knows even in today's world, when your feet are cold and wet, you're miserable. This tries to lighten that misery for people that need the help," Seyfrit said.
All 4,207 pairs were counted and taken to Richmond's Salvation Army center at noon on Tuesday, where several members of the community gathered to celebrate Project Warm Feet.
From there, the Salvation Army will ship the socks off to those in need across several counties in the Central Kentucky/Eastern Kentucky area. Some of the socks may even find their way to the Western Kentucky areas devastated by the historic tornadoes earlier this month.
Madison County Judge Executive Reagan Taylor said Project Warm Feet makes a great impact on the county and also praised Battlefield Park and Seyfrit.
"We're very proud of Philip Seyfrit and his leadership putting this together. It brings a lot of people to our visitors center to learn about the historical significance of the Battle of Richmond, but it also helps other people and that is something we always want to do -- serve others who might be in need. This is the biggest year we've had and we're proud of that too," Taylor said.
Also in attendance was Madison County Tourism Assistant Director and President of the Battle of Richmond Association David Jones. As Jones' time as president is coming to a close at the end of the year, he spoke about his experience working with Battlefield Park and Project Warm Feet throughout his three-year term.
"This is just a fun way to give back to our community every year. It's easy to do. Socks are an item that all the Civil War soldiers needed. It fits with all of our historic properties and our cause to memorialize all of those soldiers. It's just a great way to give back to the community," Jones said. "It's been an interesting three years (being president) through COVID and everything else. We're hoping we'll be able to get our reenactment back going again next year. This is a nice way to wrap up, especially the charitable aspect of it. Being able to give back to the community is nice. I'm happy to continue to serve and help with stuff like this."
A vast majority of the socks came from people and organizations in Madison County. The Farristown Junior Historical Society managed to gather 614 pairs of socks for the drive. Several donations came from out of the state as well - with some coming in from as far as Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Tennessee. It has become popular enough in the historical community that it has been imitated by other Civil War centers across the country, Seyfrit said.
"Some other battlefields picked this up. They tailor it to their own needs and their own community. One of them sends their socks to emergency teenage foster care centers," Seyfrit said.
Starting in 2013, Project Warm Feet has gathered between 16,000 and 17,000 pairs of socks in the years that have followed. With most of those donations coming from within the county, Seyfrit praised the people of Madison County and their support of the program.
"I am extremely impressed with the community and all of the people that have taken ownership of this project. It just works. Everybody can relate to it. Every time we do this we think of a 60's and 70's comedian whose catchphrase was 'sock it to me.' Well, they've socked us again," Seyfrit said.