When I think of socks, the first thing that comes to mind is the countless number of single socks that go missing in my household. Where do they go? Do they consciously uncouple?
At any given moment, we have at least 20 unmatched socks at the bottom of the laundry basket waiting for their mates, which rarely turn up. Between disappearing socks and two growing boys, I’m routinely buying new socks.
When a homeless mother thinks about socks, she’s not thinking about single socks. In fact, she’d probably be happy to have a mismatched pair. She’s likely thinking of the pain her children are in — their feet swollen and blistered — from walking in tattered socks and ill-fitting shoes. As the weather gets colder, the risk of more severe foot ailments and infections increases.
On any given night, there are as many as 5,700 homeless people in Maricopa County; of those, 38 percent are families with children. Central Arizona Shelter Services — the state’s largest shelter and supportive-services provider to the homeless in Arizona — served an average of 577 individuals every night last year, providing homeless adults and families with a clean, safe place to sleep, access to meals, showers, hygiene supplies, clothing and laundry facilities.
At CASS and other homeless shelters across the country, the single most-needed and least-donated clothing item is socks. Why socks? Unlike other clothing, such as shirts and pants, most adults wear their socks until they’re worn to the point they can’t be donated. While children typically outgrow their socks before they wear them out, many people don’t think to donate children’s socks. Yet, a pair of socks can make a huge difference to a homeless man, woman or child’s comfort, health and self-esteem.
“Families and individuals often come to CASS with a pair of socks that they have been wearing for weeks, or (no socks) at all,” says J. David Smith, communications manager at CASS. “It makes a great difference to be able to provide a new pair of socks for comfort and dignity.”
How you can help: Socks from Santa
To help, Families Giving Back and Raising Arizona Kids magazine have teamed up to host Socks From Santa. From Thursday, Dec. 1, through Wednesday, Dec 14, we’re asking Valley residents to collect new adult socks and new and gently-used children’s socks and drop them off at participating businesses across the Valley: Village Health Clubs & Spas, Churn and Grimaldi’s.
On Saturday, Dec. 17, RAK and Families Giving Back are hosting a Socks From Santa event, where RAK readers and community volunteers will organize the donated socks and attach a handwritten note. The socks will be donated to CASS to distribute at its shelters.
Our goal is to collect 5,000 socks, but we need your help. Here are three ways your family can help give comfort and warmth to a family in need this holiday season:
Participate in the Socks From Santa drive at home or in person. Collect new adult socks (men’s long tube socks are recommended) and children’s new and used socks in good condition. Get your family, friends, school groups and neighbors involved by holding your own sock drive. Families have the option of filling pairs of socks with a non-perishable snack, such as a granola bar, and decorating notecards to tie around the socks with ribbon. Visit familiesgivingback.org for a printable instruction sheet, list of drop-off locations, customizable sock-drive fliers and more.
Sign up to participate in our Socks From Santa event on Saturday, Dec. 17. Bring socks to the hourlong event at Saints Simon & Jude Cathedral School, 6351 N. 27th Ave., Phoenix. Volunteers will sort and organize all donated socks and make handmade cards. Register for this shift from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. exclusively for RAK readers.
Make a monetary donation. Make a donation of any size at familiesgivingback.org and 100 percent of the donation will go toward the purchase of socks.