In 2011, we started a collection drive.
It was the result of a nudge from a few middle school students. After learning that a concerning number of our local population were living on the streets or hopping from shelter to shelter, these kids were eager to help.
While I appreciated their hearts for wanting to do good, I also felt anxious about the whole thing.
This was a big and complex challenge they wanted to address. It would require big and complex solutions — not middle schoolers.
I didn’t want to dampen their spirits, so I thought I’d at least make a phone call. The local shelter would most likely tell me how it was very sweet that these students wanted to help but it’d probably be best to just reach out when they were older.
Instead, they shared that our local shelter did have a very big need. I braced myself.
For our shelter, like many others, socks were some of the most needed but least donated items.
It was the start of Fall, which meant cooler temperatures.
The shelter was in the process of gathering basic winter needs for the men, women, and children they served.
Their request was new socks. So, we had our mission.
We called it Socktober.
Local schools, churches, and businesses participated. I don’t remember how many pairs were collected, but it was more than I could fit in my car. It was emotional making the delivery. I thought that’d be it. Instead, it was just the start.
The next year, Socktober began to spread. It went beyond our community and even found its way to other states. The next year, I had just started the web series Kid President. After making an episode inviting everyone to start their own Socktober drive, they did.
Lots of people joined in. More people than I ever imagined joined in and they all wanted to help.
It hasn’t stopped.
This year, Socktober drives are happening across the United States and beyond. Schools have made it one of their annual community projects. Businesses have built it into their yearly giving and started fundraisers around it. We’ve seen places like Sesame Workshop, Happy Socks, Bonobos, Microsoft, and more join in.
It was even mentioned on Jeopardy!
The goal of Socktober is to connect people with their local shelters.
It’s a starting place. For many, they’ll discover socks are exactly what’s needed right now. They’ll also likely discover other ways to help neighbors in need beyond socks. Some years, it’s hygiene products or blankets. Sometimes it’s volunteer time. We’ve seen that shelters have a variety of needs in various areas — many of which could be quickly met by a small band of friends.
It’s incredible what creative, compassionate people can do when they rally together.
Through the years, I’ve seen people collect countless pairs of socks.
I’ve seen huge community meals put together.
I’ve seen people volunteer and dedicate time.
I’ve even seen new shelters built and dedicated.
Some of my favorite stories, though, are when people share how, through Socktober, they learned the name of someone they used to pass by daily on the street.
How You Can Help:
1. Connect with your local shelter!
Needs vary in each community!
Visit happysocktober.com to find a shelter near you.
You can find a directory of shelters working to serve the needs of neighbors here. You can also find printable flyers (created by young people) here or feel free to create your own. Share anything you create with me! I love to see and support you!
2. Collect what is needed!
Rally your community together to help!
Consider taking part in Socktober in whatever ways you can:
- Maybe it’s starting a collection drive.
- Maybe it’s donating time at your local shelter.
- Maybe it’s simply passing this blog post along.
3. DELIVER and REPEAT!
Let this be the start of something good!
If you’ve ever taken part in Socktober: thank you.
It’s estimated that more than half a million people in the United States are without a definite place to sleep tonight.
There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. There’s a world of challenges out there. With each new year, though, I’m reminded there’s also a world of good.
This article originally appeared in The Enthusiast by Brad Montague and was republished by Good Good Good with permission.
The Enthusiast is “your weekly tap on the shoulder that life is worth living. New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Brad Montague delivers reminders of good in the world through stories old and new. This is a project rallying people to add real joy, hope, and beauty to the world.”
Subscribe to The Enthusiast for free to ensure you’ll always get first dibs on any new goodness from Brad Montague.
Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about Socktober — with this FAQ written by the Good Good Good team:
What is Socktober?
Socktober (a combination of the words ‘socks’ and ‘October’) is an annual event celebrated in October every year. The holiday invites kids and grown-ups to start sock drives to benefit their local homeless shelters. Since 2011, socks have been donated by participants on all seven continents.
What are some more Socktober ideas?
Start a Socktober collection drive.
You can organize a Socktober collection drive for any group — whether it’s for your school, scout troop, afterschool club, house of worship, or friend group!
Your organizational skills will help others get involved and you’ll make an even bigger difference together!
Share about Socktober on social media.
Help Socktober go viral (again!) by sharing about Socktober on social media. Use the hashtag #Socktober with your posts. And make sure to show some love to other Socktober organizers who post from around the world, too!
Print out flyers about your community’s sock drive and hang them around your town!
Socktober is a wonderful opportunity to connect with your neighbors. Kids can design their own posters with all the details on how folks can donate socks, where the collection locations are, and where to learn more. Put them up around town and watch the sock donations roll in.
The Socktober team has already put together some flyer templates you can use, too.
Get featured in your local newspaper.
Use this as an opportunity to really get the word out by contacting your local newspaper. (They’ll be genuinely thrilled to cover a story about kids making a difference!)
You get to play a role in turning every newspaper into a “Goodnewspaper.”
Find more ways to get involved with your local shelter.
Socktober is a fantastic way to build a relationship with your local homeless shelter. You can ask them if there are other ways you can get involved — whether it’s more donation efforts, volunteer opportunities, or simply getting the word out.
How else can I support people experiencing homelessness?
There are a variety of ways to support unhoused people. Socks are the most-requested item by homeless shelters — but you can also put together a homeless care package with more daily necessities like food, soap, and first-aid supplies.