Tenth year of Sox in the City launched at Vancouver City Hall

December 2, 2010 | Safer Communities

Mayor Gregor Robertson joined Vancouver Coastal Health, PHS Community Services, and London Drugs today to launch the annual Sox in the City campaign at Vancouver City Hall. The campaign, which is celebrating its 10th year, gathers and distributes new or gently used socks to people in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Mayor Gregor Robertson, VCH’s Bethany Jeal, PHS Community Services Society’s Liz Evans and London Drugs’ Dave Woogman kicked off the 2010 Sox in the City campaign.

“The Sox in the City campaign is an important addition to the other initiatives underway in Vancouver to help people who are homeless,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The City is now opening temporary winter shelters and the people at those shelters and on the street will benefit greatly from new socks and other cold weather necessities. Donating to the campaign is an easy way to help people who are homeless this winter.”

Warm, dry feet are a must for the many homeless people in Vancouver who walk as many as 20 miles every day in ill-fitting shoes and no socks. Even a small blister can trigger serious blood and bone infections that can lead to long hospital stays. These ailments can be prevented with a pair of clean, dry socks.

“Something as simple as pair of clean, dry socks can ward off a wide range of health problems, especially for people with diabetes or those battling serious infections,” said Bethany Jeal, Clinical Coordinator, VCH. “Socks are not an accessory item for many residents of the Downtown Eastside - they are a necessity. Without them, people can develop sores, lesions and other wounds that are tough to heal and, in some cases, can result in death.”

The socks collected this year will be distributed by the PHS LifeSkills Centre, a member-run community and support centre located in the heart of the Downtown Eastside, which will use the socks in its foot health program.

"The gift of a clean new pair of socks on a wet winter day goes a long way," said PHS LifeSkills Project Director Coco Culbertson. "It's not just a critical health intervention, it's also an opportunity to engage these folks in a hot meal, a foot soak, and a friendly conversation which, in turn, could lead them to additional supports, such as housing."

Typically a clean, new pair of socks will last a homeless person just three days. In order to address this critical need, the 2010 campaign goal is to collect 20,000 socks for distribution.

This year’s Sox in the City campaign has the full support of London Drugs.

“London Drugs is thrilled to be participating in the Sox in the City Campaign,” said Wynne Powell, president and CEO of London Drugs. “To help kick-start the campaign, London Drugs is donating 1,000 pairs of socks and we are also offering a 5-pack ladies socks for $1 at all of our Vancouver London Drugs stores.”

Vancouver City Hall and the Vancouver Police Department are also supporting the campaign by hosting SoxBoxes.

To donate socks, please drop off new or gently used (ideally white cotton adult sports-type socks) in the big red SoxBoxes at any Vancouver London Drugs stores, Vancouver City Hall, or the Grandview-Woodland Policing Centre.

For more information on Sox in the City, and to find out how you or your organization can donate socks, please visit www.vch.ca and click on the Sox in the City icon.

Sox in the City runs until January 31, 2011.

Photo credit: City of Vancouver