Nothing’s worse than a dirty sock.
Jason Ambrose took this truism to heart when his cousin, U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Bobby Crisci, served in Afghanistan a few years ago.
“Every month we would send him a care package and he always asked for socks because they don’t get to wash their socks that much,” said the 13-year-old from North Sea, who started a local “Socks for Soldiers” effort that recently collected more than 120 pairs of soft, thick socks to send to troops overseas.
On Saturday, those socks were packed into boxes with other care-package items at the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps barn as part of Jordan’s Initiative, a memorial foundation established to honor the memory and heroism of the late U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter of Sag Harbor by supporting troops, veterans and their families. Lance Cpl. Haerter, 19, was killed in 2008, when an explosives-laden truck bar-
reled toward his post guarding a barracks filled with dozens of American troops and Iraqi police officers. He and a fellow Marine, Corporal Jonathan T. Yale, were honored for saving scores of lives.
A few months ago, in the car on his way to Our Lady of the Hamptons Regional Catholic School in Southampton Village, where he is in eighth grade, Jason was struck by the idea of collecting socks for soldiers.
“It was out of the blue,” he said during a Monday morning interview in his school’s auditorium. “They’re always traveling on patrols, so they’re always on foot and moving and they’re always sweating. They could get foot fungus, they said,” he recalled learning from his cousin.
Dressed neatly in his school uniform—a collared short-sleeved shirt under a navy vest with a tie and slacks—the brown-haired teenager with braces on his teeth explained how he shared his idea with his mother, Kathleen, who, in turn, talked to Principal Sister Kathy Schlueter.
Up went the flyers. Out went the word. In came the socks.
“I feel pretty good, that I know I’m helping people that help me every day,” he said.
At one point during the brief interview in the school auditorium, his father, Joseph “Rocky” Ambrose, an ex-chief of the North Sea Fire Department, walked in, bucket and sponge in hand—he’s what Sister Kathy called her “handyman.”
“I’m just very proud of him for what he’s doing,” he said of his son.
Jason, who is bound for Bishop McGann Mercy Diocesan High School in Riverhead in September, is also a member of the North Sea Fire Department Juniors, aspires to become a full-fledged firefighter like his father.
“It’s just saving people and helping out,” he said, “just trying to make our community a better place.”
He is also a Boy Scout with Troop 58 in Southampton, where he aims to attain the rank of Eagle Scout, as well as an altar server at the Basilica Parish of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
“Jason’s a good kid,” Sister Kathy said. “School’s not easy for him, but he works hard and he has a tremendous heart. If you need help, he’s a go-to kid.”