A charitable initiative is spreading warmth this winter starting from the toes up.
Snookie Socks aims to donate wool socks for those who are experiencing poverty or homelessness in Halifax and surrounding areas.
The campaign, hosted by local athletic shop Aerobics First, was the brainchild of one of their customers, retired RCMP officer Ken Snook. Three years ago, Snook started a GoFundMe page to raise the cash to purchase the socks for donation to local non-profits.
The sock fundraiser coincides with Aerobics First’s Fit it Forward initiative, a shoe outreach program that donates hundreds of new shoes to those in need throughout the year.
The goal is to raise enough cash to purchase and donate 500 pairs of wool socks every year.
Why wool socks? Wool acts as an insulator, keeping heat close to the skin, and doesn’t soak up water like cotton socks do. Wool socks also wick away moisture, helping feet stay drier longer, and resist odours —
benefits Snookie Socks organizers think could help keep many feet feel comfortable this season.
“We go to the agencies like Halifax Connects, Souls Harbour Rescue Mission, Shelter Nova Scotia, Adsum House, Veith House,” says Luke MacDonald, partner and shoe fitter at Aerobics First. “All the places that have direct connection to the people experiencing poverty or people that have not been able to stay in their house.”
Homeless rates in Halifax have doubled since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia published a study in November that shows there are currently 477 people who are homeless in Halifax; 375 within that group are considered chronically without a place to live.
“That (homeless) number traditionally may have been around 150,” says Jim Graham, executive director with the AHANS.
Agencies that support the vulnerable population are preparing for a busy winter and the Salvation Army Maritimes Division told Global News it’s seen a 110 per cent increase at some of its locations.
Recently, shelter operators in Nova Scotia wrote an open letter to government and policymakers, outlining how COVID-19 has intensified the current housing crisis in the province. They are urging leaders to recognize the lack of available and affordable housing options across the city amid the pandemic.
“It’s a terrible situation right now, especially for women,” MacDonald says. “They’ve been displaced, often due to violence, and so to have warm socks and show somebody cares is a really cool thing.”
MacDonald says it costs them about $5 for a pair of socks but they will gladly accept any donation made to ensure every person in need receives a new pair of socks this winter. He appreciates that this is a stressful time for everyone, but encourages the community to give back because it just makes you feel good.
“This is one of the ways Ken and I both feel that we can relieve some of our personal stress by giving and that’s what so nice about this opportunity,” he says. “It’s like giving them a hug.”
To learn more about Snookie Socks and to donate, visit their GoFundMe Page.