Michael Enright: “Socks for the Homeless”

by | January 4, 2015

Helen Bennet’s handknit socks for the homeless (Photo by Wendy Ospina) http://is.gd/0PJwS4

Today, on CBC Radio’s The Sunday Edition, Michael Enright talks about “The City Where It’s Against the Law to Be Poor.” Today’s topic is a follow up to a February 24, 2013 episode “Socks for the Homeless“:

Take a moment and think about socks. Yours are probably cosy.. They’re probably dry. And they keep your feet feeling pretty good. Next time your toe pokes through one, you’ll probably toss it. And next time the dryer devours a sock, you’ll probably ditch its mate. Socks are cheap, disposable, easily replaced.

Unless you live on the street. For homeless people, those little pieces of clothing are mittens of comfort. Hard to come by, easily ruined. Never taken for granted. Good as gold.

Listen to the audio version of the 2013 episode for the reactions of the homeless as they receive new, dry socks.

Enright was inspired to do a follow up because of a letter from “Wendy Ospina of Toronto, who wrote on behalf of her mother Helen Bennet”:

“Last February, I heard your documentary about socks for the homeless. I was touched by how important socks are to the homeless — how warm socks are critical to their survival. . . .  In March, my Mom  . . . fell on the ice, shattering her femur.  Her doctor told her she would have to stay off her leg for three — and maybe as long as six — months.  Being a very active woman in her 70s, she was devastated.

My solution was to give her a project to keep her mind occupied. I bought her wool, and gave her a goal: to knit socks for the homeless. Her sock knitting became a thing of legend among the residents and staff at the respite facility where she lived for 5 months.

I am enclosing two pairs for you to give away to someone you see in need. Thank you for your documentary. It made a difference.”

In the audio version of “The City Where It’s Against the Law to Be Poor,” Enright criticizes Ontario’s Safe Streets Act and comes up with a solution:

I discovered a way to assuage my conscience about handing out nickels and dimes to panhandlers. I hand out socks instead. You can buy half a dozen of them at a dollar store for a couple of bucks.

Although most of us won’t be able to produce socks like the ones pictured above, we can all make a difference by purchasing warm, cotton or wool-blend socks and giving them to the homeless people we meet as we stroll through our community.

2 thoughts on “Michael Enright: “Socks for the Homeless”

  1. Bubba Kincaid

    Not sure the certain form of romanticizing is all that useful except for maybe with drinks in the after-dinner lounge.

    If there is one thing the homeless have no lack of, it’s used clothing and new dollar store socks.

    Food would be better, as their allowed rations are usually slightly less abundant than their never ending supply of fabric. Especially less abundant considering how many calories get consumed by the body in the cold.

    I will say though that more than being appreciative of the use-value of the socks, the homeless are probably quite a bit grateful for the thought behind someone knitting a pair of snazzy quality socks for them, (they’d probably rather keep them as a memento than wear them out on their feet).

    So I can’t discourage it either.


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