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Good People Doing Good Things: Sock Drives for the Homeless

EAST LOS ANGELES--Salesian High School, an all male Catholic school in Boyle Heights, and also the Ruth Webb Pre Physician Assistance Society in the City of Alhambra both held sock drives for donation to Homeless Health Care Los Angeles (HHCLA) for the homeless in the region of SEW: Silverlake, Echo Park, Westlake, Pico-Union, Chinatown, and Korea Town. 

During the month of October 2015, both junior and varsity teams engaged “on a quest to collect and donate as many pairs of new socks to benefit the homeless communities,” read their outreach poster. 

Thus, parent Cynthia De La Cruz coordinated a sock drive with the football teams for the homeless in collaboration with (HHCLA). 

“Our 85-member football team wanted to reach out to the homeless in an effective manner seeing that homelessness is a big issue facing our city,” said Ms. De La Cruz. 

Parent stated that her son David De La Cruz was a key figure in initiating the effort. David “Googled” homeless agencies in the area and “HHCLA came about.” Upon the coach’s approval, “they ran with it. The boys and their parents went to family, friends, and neighbors and asked for new sock donations,” said De La Cruz. 

“The response was overwhelming! We collected over 550 pairs of socks,” she said. The socks were presented to HHCLA at the last Varsity Football home game. “It’s always nice to give back to the communities,” said Ms. De La Cruz. 

SEW Lead Street Outreach Specialist of Americorps Hope for the Homeless Xavier Puente said that socks help to create a direct service to the homeless community because they help reduce the risk of contracting a severe (foot) disease. “Socks provide comfort during these winter cold nights as well as provide a means of engagement to a population that has been reticent of receiving help,” Puente said. 

Puente added that though socks might appear as a minuscule donation “in resolving the concerns of homelessness within the County of Los Angeles, it's a great step forward in helping to engage an extremely marginalized community to services.” 

This effort “will eventually lead to helping someone manage their challenges and connect them to a housing opportunity,” he said. 

              

                  Photo of sock drive collection by Ruth Webb Pre-PA society 

 

The second organization that held a sock drive for the homeless was the Ruth Webb Pre Physician Assistance Society in the City of Alhambra.

This cohort comprised of undergraduate and graduate students meet monthly to work on community based projects and provide access to health related projects within the community. Group’s objective in this case was to help HHCLA to engage clients and help alleviate homelessness within the community. They collected 540 pairs of socks for HHCLA during the last months of 2015. 

Leslie Howard coordinator of the program said that he was very proud of the group, “they’re very dedicated to service.” 

Homeless Health Care Los Angeles, SEW Regional CES, Coordinator Monica Quezada said that Street Outreach Staff uses socks and hygiene kits specifically towards outreach efforts. 

“We go to the LA River bed for example, to engage and to built a rapport with the homeless. We introduce ourselves and tell them we’d like to help them get off the streets. This is more than just giving a gift,” said Ms. Quezada. “I see homeless with foot blisters and dirty socks. My staff gives them hygiene kits and in them we put socks.” 

“Socks go a long way for us; they help built trust,” she said. 

Quezada stated that even after when the formerly homeless individuals are permanently housed, a few have returned and asked if I remember the time when I gave them a pair of socks. “Of course,” I say. 

“This is the kind of relationship and trust that we create around socks,” she said.

 

(Connie Acosta is a member of the Echo Park Neighborhood Council and a former secretary of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition (LANCC)).

-cw