Community response to Brantford’s first sock drive is exceeding coordinators’ expectations, with well over 700 pairs of socks having been brought to Sophia’s Bakery in less than a week.
The media company SoulPancake first launched the initiative, dubbed Socktober, four years ago, as a means to get people of all ages actively participating in combating plights of homelessness.
The local Socktober at Sophia’s campaign provides participants the ability to donate a pair of socks to the gluten free bakery at 60 Colborne, in exchange for a sock-themed sugar cookie.
Alongside socks, Socktober at Sophia’s also encourages donations of other warm garments. “We will be accepting socks, as well as scarves, gloves, hats and other items that will be of great help to those struggling during the cold months to come.” Says co-organizer Laura Duguid of Sophia’s Bakery and Café.
The pile of hundreds of socks donated by community members thus far varies from intricately handmade socks and pantyhose, to industrial work socks, a diverse bounty organizers are excited to see.
According to organizers Lucas Duguid and Marc Laferriere, the plan for Brantford’s Socktober was born from a last minute text message, and a desire to broaden community discourse about homelessness.
“We saw a need. We need socks, so let’s get socks,” explains organizer Lucas Duguid. “It didn’t require lots of funding, it didn’t require a board, it didn’t require permission, it was just ‘we have an idea, let’s do it.’”
Brantford’s “A Community Needs Assessment on Homelessness Issues” report states that “10.1 per cent of all families in Brantford live below the Low Income Cut Off,” and in turn is at a great risk of experiencing homelessness.
“I think that in this economy, a lot of people are one paycheck away from being below the poverty line, and even one paycheck away from being homeless,” says Laferriere.
“Foot care is so important, especially when you live on your feet and in the elements, and don’t necessarily have access to a bath or shower regularly,” says Laferriere.“Issues that start in the feet can affect the whole body.”
Plantar warts, fungal nail infections, athletes foot, trench foot and frostbite are amongst a few of the foot related ailments one can be exposed to without having the provisions to maintain proper foot hygiene, says Joy of Sox, a not for profit organization that aims to raise awareness about the dangers of homelessness without socks.
According to Laferriere, when thinking about homelessness, people do not often think about necessities as simple as socks. “Imagine life on the street being very difficult,” says Laferriere. “Now imagine that with poor foot health, imagine that with sore, cracked, drying feet that are now creating further issues, and you are ashamed of them, and you have to be on your feet all day and walk miles to the next meal program if you’re able to in the cold.”
Socktober will be donating the socks collected by the initiative to Brantford’s Out of the Cold Program. Out of the Cold provides overnight shelter during the winter season for Brantford’s homeless over the age of nineteen.
“We may find that this exceeds [Out of the Cold’s] needs, which is amazing,” says Lucas Duguid. “Already we’ve had some people reach out and say, ‘If you’ve got socks left over, here’s another program that could benefit from that.”
The sock drive will continue at Sophia’s until Oct. 31.