8,000 Pairs of Socks Donated to Capital Region’s Homeless

Victoria – The Victoria Cool Aid Society and Congregation Emanu-El are pleased to announce that 8,000 quality pairs of socks worth $40,000 have been donated by McGregor Socks (Toronto) to people in the Capital Region who are homeless and poor. The media are invited to a news conference to learn about socks and health and view the distribution of socks to local social service providers. The news conference is Wednesday, September 19, at 10 am at the Streetlink emergency shelter, 1634 Store Street (entrance on Wharf Street).

“Of all the gifts we receive, the importance of socks cannot be overemphasized,” said Rev. Al Tysick of Our Place. “A gift of socks is a gift of health for our neighbours who are homeless.”

“The parts of the body that suffer the most among people who are homeless are their feet,” said Don McTavish, Cool Aid’s manager of shelters. “Twice now Congregation Emanu-El and McGregor Socks have stepped up with a very generous contribution of thousands of badly needed socks for people who are homeless. This year, we are delighted to share those socks with 15 different social service providers who will put them into the hands of those who need them most this fall and winter.”

The socks are currently stored in the basement of Streetlink shelter taking up “about a cord and a half” of room. There will be an opportunity for the media to photograph the 8,000 pairs of socks as some of them are removed for delivery to caring agencies.

Faith plays a key role in the involvement of Synagogue members in social action explained Rabbi Harry Brechner. “The Torah says that we are to love our neighbours as ourselves. I want to wake up in a warm bed. I want warm socks on my feet. And I want these simple things for my neighbours as well.”

“People who are homeless often have traumatized feet and good socks are essential to their health,” said Anne Drost, a nurse with Cool Aid’s Community Health Centre. “A good pair of socks provides warmth and helps prevent fungal foot infections and prevent blisters, or is part of the treatment plan for these ailments.” Nice, warm socks are critical during Victoria’s cold and wet winter season and always in short supply.

“Homelessness is everyone’s responsibility,” said Michael Bloomfield of Avodah, the Synagogue’s social action group. “When I realized the desperate need for socks I asked McGregor Industries for help. I was thrilled by their generous response to our call for socks for homeless people in our community.” When Michael Bloomfield arranged the first gift of 7,000 socks from McGregor two years ago, he mentioned the high cost of shipping to Susan Knowler of RBC Dominion Securities who offered to pay for shipping the next donation of socks. She, along with Paul Hawken, who spoke in June at a Victoria conference on sustainable community development, generously paid for the large shipment to the Streetlink emergency shelter.

“Our mission has always been to create products that ‘bring comfort to body and soul’,” said Rick Hastings of McGregor Socks. “Partnering with these social service agencies in the Capital Region will allow us to extend that comfort to thousands of our neighbours who need a little comfort. The same spirit that has helped us grow this organization as a family-managed business over the past 80 years will continue to drive us in a partnership that I know will be strong and enduring.”

Victoria Cool Aid Society provides primary health care services, supported housing, emergency shelter, life skills training and job placements to marginalized adults in the Victoria area, in a non-judgemental way. For more information visit www.CoolAid.org or call 383-1977.

Congregation Emanu-El is Canada’s oldest synagogue, originally built in 1863, and in continuous use since that time. Avodah is Congregation Emanu-El’s social action group. Ongoing projects include preparing hot meals, collecting socks and food, and supporting local organizations dedicated to serving those most in need in our city, particularly homeless youth and adults.

McGregor Socks is a subsidiary of McGregor Industries Toronto, Canada. McGregor was founded in 1928 by the Lipson family and today is still led by 3rd generation family members. The companies’ major source of revenue is from the development and marketing of better Men’s and Women’s socks and this specialization allows the company to maintain a high level of expertise and leadership in this market. Head office/showrooms are located in Toronto, New York and London. The company distributes a wide range of Licensed, National Brands and Private Label products through an extensive International sales network. Its customer base includes 10,000 points of sale within better department, specialty, discount and chain store retailers in over 30 countries.

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Information:    www.CoolAid.org     www.congregation-emanu-el.org

Don McTavish, Manager of Shelters, Cool Aid, (250) 383-1977
Anne Drost, Nurse, Cool Aid, (250) 383-1977
Rabbi Harry Brechner, Congregation Emanu-El, (250) 382-0615
Michael Bloomfield, Avodah, Congregation Emanu-El, (250) 380-3001
Rick Hastings, McGregor Socks, (604) 417-1226


Socks and Health Facts

  • When you do not have a home you spend a significant amount of your time standing and waiting in lines. It is hard to keep your feet warm and dry and your feet suffer a lot of abuse – moreso than other parts of your body.
  • Good clean socks help prevent both fungal infections and blisters.
  • Prevention of blisters prevents secondary foot infections that require antibiotic treatment.
  • A patient with a foot fungal infection is encouraged to change into clean socks frequently.
  • Good socks are more important for those who suffer with neuropathy in their feet, like diabetics and those with AIDS neuropathy, as they have reduced sensation and cannot feel when they are developing sores and blisters.