McGregor Socks Gives 6,000 Pairs to Region’s Homeless

VICTORIA —  December 2, 2009 — Congregation Emanu-El’s social action group, Avodah, announced today that McGregor Socks (Toronto) has donated 6,000 pairs of socks for homeless and poor people in the Capital Region.  This brings to 25,000 the total number of pairs of socks that McGregor Socks has donated to our community since 2005.

Media are invited to a news conference to learn about McGregor’s extraordinary commitment to homeless people in Victoria and Congregation Emanu-El’s efforts to improve the lives of homeless people in Victoria. Avodah will give out socks to YMCA/YWCA Street Outreach and to the “Divine Shelter” at St. John the Divine Anglican Church at the news conference. See complete list of recipient agencies below.

The news conference will take place at 2 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009 at Congregation
Emanu-El, 1461 Blanshard St., Victoria.

“Righteous action is at the core of Jewish practice,” said Congregation Emanu-El’s Rabbi Harry Brechner. “We learn in Torah, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Ensuring that there are clean fresh socks for so many people in our city is a powerful manifestation of that teaching.”

McGregor’s remarkable relationship with Congregation Emanu-El and Victoria began in 2005. Recognizing that homeless people desperately need socks, Avodah’s Michael Bloomfield called McGregor Socks for help and McGregor generously responded with its first donation, 6,500 pairs.

McGregor’s generosity offers a great example of corporate social responsibility,” said Bloomfield. “We are thrilled and grateful for McGregor’s generous response. However, homelessness is everyone’s responsibility. Especially during difficult economic times, each of us needs to do our part to help people in need.”

“McGregor is proud to be working with social service agencies in Victoria and across Canada to provide comfort and support for people in need,” said Rob Stanley, vice-president, McGregor Socks. The program in Victoria is an especially wonderful example of cooperation. We hope our gift inspires other businesses to step up and help out.”

“For people who have housing, a pair of warm socks is nice to have and a much-appreciated comfort. For folks without their own homes, dry feet and warm socks will keep you going when you have nothing else,” said Don McTavish, Cool Aid’s Manager of Shelters. “On behalf of the many individuals who will be warmer this winter, I want to thank McGregor Socks for another generous corporate gift to our community and encourage other businesses to consider how they might contribute to help end homelessness.”
The socks will be distributed to the following  social service providers, who will give them out to people who need them most:  AIDS Vancouver Island, Out of the Rain Youth Night Shelter,  Burnside Gorge Community Association, CARTS, James Bay Community project/Youth Clinic, Kiwanis Emergency Youth Shelter, Native Friendship Centre, Our Place, Pacifica Housing Service, PEERS Office, REES Network, Single Parent Resource Centre, Cool Aid Health Clinic, Sandy Merriman Shelter, Streetlink, VARCS Mobile X Van, YM/YWCA Outreach and the Victoria EWP Program, “Divine Shelter” at St. John the Divine Anglican Church.


For further information:

Penny Tennenhouse, Avodah, Congregation Emanu-El, 250-380-4885,
Michael Bloomfield, Avodah, Congregation Emanu-El, 250-380-3001,
Rabbi Harry Brechner, Congregation Emanu-El, 250-382-0615,
Rick Hastings, McGregor Industries, 604-417-1226,
Don McTavish, Manager of Shelters, Cool Aid, 250-888-7103,


McGregor Socks is a subsidiary of McGregor Industries, Toronto.  McGregor was founded in 1928 by the Lipson family and today is still led by third-generation family members.  The companies’ major source of revenue is from developing and marketing better men’s and women’s socks.  The company distributes a wide range of products through an extensive international sales network, with 10,000 points of sale in over 30 countries.

Congregation Emanu-El, built in 1863, is Canada’s oldest synagogue in continuing use.  In 2003, Rabbi Harry Brechner created the Avodah social action group to turn Congregation Emanu-El’s beliefs into acts of loving kindness.  Avodah —  working closely with social service agencies —  has focused on serving its neighbours who are most in need in Victoria, particularly homeless youth and adults. In addition to the socks initiative, other activities include preparing hot meals for the Out of the Rain youth shelter and putting on monthly birthday parties at Our Place.

Avodah recently created an innovative fund to help families in need pay rent. “This Rental Supplement Fund is the answer Avodah came up with to our urgent question: “When some of our neighbours don’t have homes, what can we do to help?” said Rabbi Brechner. “Avodah believes that even small groups can make a big difference in the lives of people.”

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-judgmental way.  “Cool Aid has been a much-appreciated partner of Congregation Emanu-El throughout our socks project,” said Bloomfield. For more information, visit or call 250-414-4781.

Socks and Health Facts

  • When you do not have a home, you spend much of your time standing 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