News Story

Two Latter-day Saint Communities Make a Difference, One Pair of Socks at a Time

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Toronto, Ontario, and Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, jumped in with both feet to partner with local community organizations to collect, distribute or sort socks for people experiencing homelessness. Latter-day Saints have discovered that helping others put their best foot forward may begin with a pair of new socks.

Socks 4 Souls Canada

Youth from the Toronto Ontario Stake have been meeting regularly to sort socks. Although it’s not a traditional activity of most young people, these youth are helping Socks 4 Souls Canada (S4SC), a non-profit organization aimed at distributing socks to those experiencing homelessness throughout Ontario.

Dr. Christine Tang, one of the founders of S4SC, emphasized, “It was amazing to witness this fabulous group of volunteers band together to help people living on the streets while also raising social consciousness amongst the youth. It is even more amazing to see youths leading and teaching younger youths to help people less fortunate than themselves.”

Tang discovered that many experiencing homelessness struggle with mobility issues secondary to foot problems. These problems are often related to the fact that many individuals who face homelessness may lack access to clean socks.

Before the pandemic, S4SC was able to hold large community events with the support of local radio broadcasting stations where people would donate and sort socks. When COVID-19 struck and large gatherings were limited, S4SC was unable to host its annual community sock-sorting event, so the Church youth and other Latter-day Saints began to help.

Toronto Ontario Stake youth leaders, along with the Relief Society (women’s organization) and the elders quorum (men’s organization), helped organize sorting events at three Toronto-area chapels. Throughout the year, youth sorted socks into three different categories — men’s, women’s and children’s — then created S4SC distribution labels and placed the socks into bags.

Warren Hall, a youth from the Don Mills Ward, enthusiastically shared, “My favourite part was putting stickers on the bundles of socks.”

Warren’s brother, James Hall, mentioned, “It was a good experience, and I was glad to participate. My favourite part was opening the packaging and then folding socks. I love helping people to have warm feet.”

The sorted socks were then distributed to local shelters with the help of other youth, Church missionaries and members of local congregations.

Nicole Casado, a youth from the Don Valley Ward, noted, “Serving others can create a sense of unity and common purpose that transcends cultural, ethnic and socioeconomic barriers.”

Sorting events were open to all, so Church youth invited their community friends to help. Asher Nelson, a youth from the Don Mills Ward, explained, “It was really fun because I got to [sort socks at church] with my friends while also helping the community.”

The youth from the Toronto Ontario Stake helped Socks 4 Souls Canada sort its millionth pair of socks. Tang shared, “This year, over 50,000 socks were collected and sorted in the 2023 Winter Sock Drive and distributed to over 70 shelters and agencies supporting the homeless community.”

Sock Toss Event

More than 2,500 pairs of new socks were tossed onto the basketball court at halftime at the Vancouver Bandits Sock Toss Game on July 14, 2023, at the Langley Events Centre in Langley, British Columbia. The sock toss is a spinoff of the traditional “Teddy Bear Toss” common at hockey games. At the sock toss, fans threw new pairs of socks onto the court to raise awareness about homelessness.

Brody McDearmid, Abbotsford British Columbia Stake communication director for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a key organizer of the annual event, said, “The sock toss basketball game with the Vancouver Bandits is an excellent opportunity to partner with others in the community. The most rewarding aspect of the event is that we can help others who are facing challenges and difficult times in their lives.”

All socks were donated directly to the Lookout Housing and Health Society (LHHS), which serves vulnerable populations throughout British Columbia with health and outreach services, housing and emergency shelters. Thirty-six Church missionaries and five LHHS members gathered the socks off the basketball court.

The Vancouver Bandits, a Canadian Elite Basketball team located in Langley, British Columbia, donated an additional 1,200 socks for the second annual sock toss, more than doubling the number of socks collected last year. New socks are one of the most requested and appreciated items at local shelters.

At the event, the Church made a significant donation to LHHS. The donation will assist in the development of LHHS’s new 545 East Cordova site, providing outreach and hygiene supplies for individuals experiencing homelessness, food to supplement feeding efforts at shelters and unhoused day centre patrons, and 20 full-sized stoves and refrigerators for units at LHHS’s new affordable housing centre.

Shayne Williams, CEO of LHHS, expressed gratitude for the generous contribution and support of the vulnerable individuals who access LHHS’s services. He said, “We truly appreciate your thoughtful generosity and support of this work and those we serve.”

President McKinley Bateman, Vancouver British Columbia Stake president, said, “We joyfully joined with the Lookout Housing and Health Society to make good things happen for vulnerable populations throughout the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Our shared goal is to fill the lives of others with needed support, nourishment, hope and victory.”

Read the story in French

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