Charitable Choices: take one, donate one with Sock Footage

Sock Footage is a Toronto-based sock company with a charitable aspect. A one-for-one giving model. For every pair of socks that you purchase, one is donated to shelters.

Sock Footage

Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences:

Sock Footage is a Toronto-based sock company with a one-for-one giving model. For every pair of funky socks that you purchase from us, we give you a free pair of socks to donate back to someone in need in your community.

We’ve got lots of great gift-giving ideas from sock subscriptions and bouquets, to individual designs for Men, Women, and Kids. During the pandemic, all socks are still getting to our homeless friends via the various partner charities that we work with. Since our launch, we have been able to collect and donate over 10,000 pairs of socks to people in need in our community. Visit www.sockfootage.com to help us #PAYITFOOTWARD and give the gift that keeps on giving this holiday season.

What problem does it aim to solve?

Most people are unaware that socks are one of the most needed, but least donated items to homeless shelters. As a general rule, shelters will not accept used socks or underwear, so when people think of cleaning out their closets to donate items to a shelter, rarely do they think about going to buy something new. For this reason, there is always a shortage when it comes to socks.

In most cases, a homeless individual’s feet are their primary mode of transportation to get them from point A to point B, whether that’s their next meal, job interview, etc, so proper foot care is of utmost importance. While we understand that socks will not necessarily solve homelessness, we believe that if we can make someone’s day a little bit brighter by offering them something that they need, like a new pair of socks, then we can at the very least provide them with a human interaction that allows them to feel some sense of dignity.

When did you start/join it?

Sock Footage was launched in August of 2019. After a five-year stint as a corporate account manager in the sock industry, I knew I wanted to find a way to combine my passion for socks with giving back to those less fortunate. Our overall mission is to empower individuals to engage in acts of kindness as a by-product of their simple, everyday sock purchases.

What made you want to get involved?

Having been involved in and volunteered at a number of charitable organizations over the course of my career, I had the opportunity to work closely with members of the homeless community. Through this work, (with organizations like the NDG Food Bank in Montreal and CAMH in Toronto) I quickly realized that there was a common thread among the individuals with whom I crossed paths: they all craved connection and conversation. They wanted to be heard and they wanted to be seen. Unfortunately, in this age of technology, we have lost authentic connection, and, as a result, many of our relationships have become short-lived and transactional. We are trying to get consumers to reconnect with those living on the streets to help reduce some of the stigmas of homelessness.

At Sock Footage, our version of “paying it forward” is to “PAY IT FOOTWARD”. In contrast to other businesses with a similar one-for-one giving model, we actually offer the consumer an opportunity to get personally involved in their donation experience, if that is of interest to them. We have witnessed firsthand the impact that face-to-face giving can have on both the giver and the receiver. Through the donation of our complimentary pair of socks, we are looking to start a movement that spreads awareness about the importance of giving back. We are asking customers to post highlights of their donation moments (how they felt before and after their act of giving) while reminding them to be both respectful and mindful to never compromise the privacy or expose the identity of those on the receiving end. Alternatively, we are asking them to post photos of their novelty socks to social media using #PAYITFOOTWARD and by tagging @sockfootageco.

What was the situation like when you started? How has it changed since?

When the company launched, there were already over 9,200 homeless individuals living in Toronto.
With COVID now in play, it is my understanding that outdoor homelessness has increased significantly. Shelters have reduced capacity so as to adhere to social distancing measures and many no longer feel safe being inside, which is why we have seen so many encampments pop up during the pandemic. With 3 consecutive lockdowns plaguing the city, access was cut off to so many basic resources. It became difficult to fill up a water bottle, use a public washroom or simply go inside to get out of the cold. Libraries were closed, limiting internet access for many who relied heavily on their services.

What more needs to be done?

While donation socks are certainly a “step in the right direction”, pun intended, awareness and education are paramount.
Advocacy is essential.

How can our readers help?

Readers can help by reaching out to their local shelters to evaluate what is needed. Very often these organizations receive donations that they, unfortunately, cannot make use of.
Contact their local MPs to see what is being done as it relates to affordable housing solutions for this community.
Connect with members in the community who are struggling to ask how they can help.
Be kind and decent human beings, by extending empathy and compassion to those who are “living rough”. Everyone’s got a story and you never really know what someone is going through or how they got there until you ask.

Do you have any events coming up?

Our charitable sock vending machine, the first of its kind, can now be found at 900 Dufferin Street at the Dufferin Mall (Toronto, ON), and is located directly diagonal from Winners. With every pair of funky socks purchased from the machine, the second pair of free Men’s cotton socks drop simultaneously, empowering consumers to help #PAYITFOOTWARD by giving back. Individuals have the option to donate the complimentary pair of socks on-site to a plexiglass donation box that is affixed to the side of the machine, in which case all contributions will be shipped directly to our partners at Sistering, a multi-service agency for at-risk, socially isolated women and trans people in Toronto who are homeless or precariously housed. Alternatively, because the machine operates on the honour system, people have the option to take away the free pair to be able to give directly & face-to-face to someone in need.

Additionally, we will be selling socks at Evergreen Brickworks’ Holiday Market.

Dates and Times are as follows:
Saturday, December 18th, 11-4
Monday, December 20th, 12-7
Tuesday, December 21st, 12-7
Wednesday, December 22nd, 12-7

Alternatively, you can order online.

Where can we follow you?

You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?

St. Felix Centre! We have partnered with them on a number of initiatives.
They do some amazing work in the community. They are a non-profit community centre in downtown Toronto that is dedicated to providing compassionate service and a safe, welcoming and respectful environment inclusive of all religions, cultures, genders and abilities. They are 100% pet friendly and serve over 20,000 meals a month to their guests.