It doesn’t sound like much, just a pair of new dry, warm socks, but they certainly beat worn out, wet socks especially in the winter months and even more so when you don’t have ready access to laundry facilities. If you’re homeless, living on the streets and carrying everything you own on a backpack or worse, a trash bag moving from place to place every few days having a new pair of dry, warm socks isn’t exactly your top priority. And yet, that’s exactly how I found myself not that long ago in Columbus, Ohio when there was a foot of snow on the ground and the temperatures were dipping downward to zero.
I hadn’t thought that much about it at the time, but my feet were cold all the time and the few pair of old socks I had were paper thin and it seemed every sock I owned had at least one hole in it.
Then something happened that changed everything for me. I ran into a few hundred dollars because a friend of mine, another homeless guy had learned how to find missing money for people. You’ve probably seen ads for companies that find missing money from government agencies for people. He was one of those guys and ran his very small company from a computer at the local library and a throwaway “Obamaphone”. He found $300 owed to me from the Texas Workforce Commission only because a former employer several years prior had fired me without paying my last paycheck as the company’s new owner drove the company into bankruptcy. I had filed for the pay through the Texas Workforce Commission, but of course bad things happen when you lose your job and end up homeless. I never expected to see that paycheck again.
My friend told me that if he could find any money owned to me he only wanted 10% of whatever he found which to me was a great deal and sure enough a few weeks later I received a check in the mail at the homeless shelter we had been staying at. I was more than happy to pay him his $30. (It was actually $38, but close enough.) I had over $300 in my pocket! That was pretty good for a guy whose only source of income up to then was selling hand rolled cigarettes to other homeless guys for a quarter each.
So, one day with money in my pocket for the first time in what felt like forever I walked into one of the big chain stores in the area and bought a package of brand new socks. Before I had even left the store I stopped in the lobby and yanked off my boots and old socks and tried on the first, dry, warm socks I’d had in quite some time. WOW! My feet never felt so great! I’ve never looked back and no longer even own a pair of socks with holes in them.
So what did I learn? First, socks aren’t too expensive for me to buy a dozen pair every few months, about $10 so I really don’t have a good excuse for having socks with holes in them.
Secondly, there are plenty of people more than happy to have my old, well taken care of socks so when I have a few dozen pair saved up I take them all down to the local homeless shelter to donate and I always stop along the way there to buy a new package to toss in with the older socks. Believe me that any homeless shelter will be thrilled if you drop off 3 dozen pair of socks, new or used.
And finally…I don’t take for granted that everyone has the money to buy new socks every few months. The folks in homeless shelters usually don’t have the money for much of anything so if you donate a package of brand new (or used), dry, warm socks your donation WILL BE appreciated and put to great use. There are many ways you can help out homeless people, even volunteering your time, but from personal experience I can tell you that every man, woman and child in a homeless shelter will appreciate your dry, warm socks much more than the mere fact that you might have dipped up a plate of green beans once a year at Thanksgiving.
And before you do anything else today check out the Hanes Sock Drive.
According to the Hanes Sock Drive website, (and I know it’s true) “Socks and underwear are among the most requested, but least donated items at homeless shelters. This year we’re donating more than 225,000 pairs of socks to shelters in every single state in the country.” You can help without even looking into your sock and underwear drawer for your old stuff.