Socks for the homeless

In Conditions, Foot Facts by Alnoor Ladhani, Chiropodist

Socks for the homeless

We talk a lot on this blog and at our foot clinic about the importance of keeping your feet  healthy.

We talk about a lot of different conditions that we can help with, about treatments for foot problems, and about simple, common sense things you can do to prevent foot problems and promote your foot health.

Have you ever considered the importance of socks?

We’re not talking about compression socks this time.  We’re talking about regular, every day socks.

In a CBC radio documentary called “Socks for the Homeless”, you’ll hear about a different perspective on the humble sock that makes perfect sense and yet not many of us think about.

I highly recommend you listen to the documentary.  It’s just under 10 minutes, and I believe you’ll hear some things that surprise you.  One woman even says that bringing someone a new pair of socks can be more important than food.

Many of the voices in the documentary are those of homeless people in Toronto describing what a clean and dry pair of socks means to them.

Just listening for a few minutes gives you a sense of the vital role that access to new socks plays in their health and wellness, and ultimately, their survival.

Many of their reasons are obvious when you hear them, such as how nice it feels to change out of dirty, wet socks and into a fresh warm pair.  Even so, how often do you actually have to really think about this?

Usually, when your feet are wet, you change your socks and throw the used ones into your laundry hamper.  It’s something most of us take for granted.  But for someone living on the streets, laundry usually isn’t an option, and a clean pair of socks is hard to come by.

Many of the guests on the show talk about how important socks are to the health of their feet.  They describe blisters, sores, the danger of losing toes to frost bite, trench foot and athletes foot as potential risks that present serious danger to them.

Most of us will never deal with trench foot, because we aren’t typically subjected to the conditions that cause it, and our risk of losing toes because of frost bite is also minimal.

Blisters, sores, and athletes foot may be common, but don’t typically get serious enough to cause serious damage, because we are able to treat the problem quickly, and can do whatever is necessary to heal properly.

Things like obtaining creams and medications, band-aids to keep wounds covered, and access to clean socks and usually even a choice of more suitable footwear are all simple things we can do that are often a much bigger obstacle to someone who is homeless.

Are you inspired to help?  A very simple, very inexpensive, and yet vitally important way you can make a big impact on someone in need is to hold a sock drive.

All you need to do is collect pairs of new socks and donate them to a shelter or organization that serves the homeless, such as Good Shepherd Ministries.

Or, donate money to a sock drive like the students at Ryerson University (who are collecting both money and socks) or through the Just Socks Foundation.