Our State Motto: Salus populi suprema lex esto, “Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law.”

Turning an unexpected family tragedy into a community-wide good deed is not an easy task to do, but Janet and Edward Miller of California, Missouri, have done just that almost effortlessly.

The Millers lost their only son Benjamin (Ben) in August 2017 to a brain aneurysm at the age of thirty-four. Ben was a big bear of a man with an even bigger, gentler heart. He loved to help out, although he never wanted recognition for it. His untimely death struck the family hard, but Janet and Ed quickly decided they needed to do something to honor him and help others at the same time.

Benjamin Miller.

It didn’t take them long to come up with the idea for Gentle Ben’s Socks for the Homeless, a charity sock drive in Ben’s memory. The family recounts how Ben absolutely loved getting socks as gifts for his birthday and Christmas. The Millers decided that they were going to continue their tradition of making someone happy by collecting and donating what they could, starting simply with friends and family. After some quick research, Janet found out that socks were the most-needed item in local shelters, especially around the Christmas season. The couple ended up with a stunning eight hundred pairs to donate to the Salvation Army the first year they undertook this mission.

Left, Benjamin’s family gathers during a donation: left to right, Travis Breshears (brother-in-law), Edward Miller (father), Janet Miller (mother), Stacie Breshears (sister), and Travis and Stacie’s three adopted children, David Medrano (brother-in-law), Brianna Medrano (sister).

The surprising amount of support they received inspired local benefit dinners and an online page dedicated to the cause. The second year, they put out collection bins around Jefferson City and California, Missouri, and received three thousand pairs of socks.

This year, the Millers have set a goal of five thousand pairs of socks and will be donating them to the Salvation Army in Jefferson City and Columbia, as well as Welcome Home, a homeless shelter for veterans in Columbia. The collection end date is December 20, as they would like to have the socks delivered on Ben’s birthday, December 22. Visit GentleBensSocks.org.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Donate socks using the bins at Schulte’s Fresh Foods in Jefferson City and the Grind Coffee Shop in California, Missouri. They accept new men’s, women’s, and children’s socks.
  • Donate money, of which 100 perecnt will go toward buying socks. Mail checks to the address below. Gentle Ben’s Socks for the Homeless has recently became a Missouri nonprofit corporation and received tax-exempt status as a charitable organization as well, giving an added benefit to helping out the cause.
  • If you own a business, allow a collection bin. Contact the Millers on their Facebook page.
  • You can also show your support by liking the organization’s Facebook page and checking out any upcoming fundraisers, such as benefit dinners or T-shirt sales.
    Donation Address: PO Box 291, California, MO 65018