Stories From the Streets
Moose, Will, Nate, Eric, and the Man on Crutches as well as many others all have personal stories to tell. On this page, we are sharing stories from street about the importance and necessity of new socks for the homeless. To submit your story, please click here to send us a message!
“You don’t realize it, but sometimes socks can be more important than bringing people food because food is not hard to get but it seems to be harder and harder to get socks all the time. Without socks you get sores on your knee, between your toes, and on your ankles that can actually go up your legs. I once got a leg infection because the socks weren’t protecting my toes, and ankles, and yeah. The damage can go all the way up to your back, I’m tellin’ ya.”
“I love my socks. They keep you warm, it’s like a nice bowl of chicken noodle soup in the winter time. They are just nice to have.”
“I am the clothing bank coordinator here at St. Andrew’s Out of the Cold Program. One thing that everyone always asks for are socks, it is just a constant demand here.”
“If you don’t have the clean socks, your feet begin to stink. Clean socks are the first step in preventing the stigma that comes along with smelly feet; people are judging you, and not knowing you. I am trying to better myself by taking a yoga class, and I have to do my yoga in my shoes because I’m not going to offend anybody else.”
“I am the community outreach worker for a nonprofit organization that does poverty relief locally and internationally. I have been working here for about a year and a half now, and it was probably a couple of months after I first started when I met a client who could literally barely walk because he had athlete’s foot so bad and he was almost hobbling towards the vehicle. I realized once I looked down that he had t-shirts wrapped around his feet that were sticking out of his shoes. I asked him why he had t-shirts wrapped around his feet and he said that nobody in the city, no drop-ins, no churches, no outreach had socks right now available. And he couldn’t make it to his meals in the morning, he couldn’t make it to lunches or dinners, and the only people he could receive food from were mobile, like street outreach like me. It was horrible to see someone not able to eat properly because they didn’t have socks, you would never put two and two together like that.”
“Moose is a friend on Facebook and he lives in San Antonio, Texas. I was speaking to him the other day on the phone and he said, “You know what? Whenever I go to a distribution place to get some clothes I may get a pair of jeans, a shirt, a sweater, but we never get any socks.” He then went on to say, “Bless you for what you do.” And he called me Brother Socks.”
“Just before Christmas I was out on the streets, and one of the spots that usually doesn’t flood, what little snow we did get caused water to flood into where I was sleeping, and so I woke up just drenched from head to foot, and all my gear was wet – I didn’t have dry clothes, any dry socks, and its miserable because waking up in the morning when you don’t have something dry to put on your feet to make them warm. Probably most of the people who have houses can think back to getting out of bed to a cold floor in the morning, you know. Imagine that, but you’re outside and you can’t turn on the heat, you can’t put on slippers, you don’t have anything else and its really rough. They are just a couple pieces of fabric but at the end of the day those couple pieces of fabric around your feet can be what stops you losing toes to frostbite. A lot of people assume that socks are just for winter, but its not. We need them a lot during the summer a lot, too, because with the heat there comes a lot of issues with the sweat building, and by the end of the day sometimes your feet are just drenched and I mean when you gotta put on that same pair of sweaty, dirty socks the next morning, its just not pleasant.”
“Just picture walking 20 blocks to breakfast, and 20 blocks to lunch, and 10 blocks to dinner, and even just after all that wear and tear you need a new pair of socks. The biggest thing is that there are no laundry facilities; laundry facilities are common on the street but laundry is heavy and it’s hard to carry around, and it’s hard to keep laundry until you can find a place where you can go do it for free so a lot of people just end up throwing out stuff like socks and stuff that gets really worn, and that’s why they constantly need new ones.”
“My name is Has and I had that happen to me about three times so far, and basically the bottom of your feet rot until the point where your skin actually starts to die. We walk probably about 50 kilometers a day on average, just around the city looking for stuff, scrounging through stuff, going to meals, making it back to your bed every night. It’s a long distance every day on your feet and your feet are the one thing you have always got to take care of.”
“I am the coordinator of the health center for street youth. Youth come to us all the time when they are living on the street and they say “Do you have any socks?” and we have to say to them “You know, we’ve run out of socks” because that’s not just something that people think that people on the streets need as much as they would need a blanket, or a coat, or mittens and a hat, perhaps. And we see blisters, terrible blisters, because people are barefoot in their shoes, and they don’t have that second skin which protects them while they’re walking.”
“The shelter system, my personal feelings, is a shelter but they actually kick you out during the day, so all day you’re wandering the streets, killing time, just wasting time waiting to get back in at 5 o’clock, so, and again, you’re walking around all day because you don’t have money to eat, so how are you supposed to commute, we walk everywhere, right? Especially in the winter when you’re wandering the streets and you only have one pair of shoes, one pair of pants – just whatever is on your back. You get soaking wet, and then the slush comes onto you when the cars come by, or you slip and fall, like those socks just start getting like sand paper, you know, when they start drying up a little bit, and they start cutting into the back of your heels. At the end of the day, you’re cold, your feet are becoming pruned, so all around it’s just very demeaning. Even when you’re just walking around, you feel uncomfortable, you look around at everyone else, and their feet are warm and dry, and you could just wish that, you know. Even like the subtlest things, like a pair of socks can make the biggest difference in the world.”
The other day I was at a shelter in Philly around lunchtime. A fellow walked in and looked around. Both Gerry (a friend) and I made eye contact with him. We both said hello and went up and shook his hand. I said “Hi, my name is Tom.” He shyly said, “My name is Nate.” Well since Nate was wearing a Phillies jacket, I asked him about what he thought of the team this year and what did he think of the pitching staff. We did small talk for a few minutes. He then said he was hungry and started to walk over to the lunch line. But as he was walking away he turned back and said, “Thanks guys for not looking through me today…you gave me dignity.” The power of a simple hello.
Some of these stories were transcribed from the CBC radio show “Sunday Edition.” The audio documentary producer, Frank Kaulk, interviewed The Joy of Fox Founder Tom Costello Jr. prior to the show for his insight about the homeless and the need for new socks. You can hear the entire show (about 9 minutes) here.