Across the province, clinics have opened their doors to patients, colleagues and community members alike in a shared goal: helping Albertans who are experiencing homelessness and joblessness to stay warm during the frigid winter season.
How are they doing this? Through collecting warm, new socks.
Socks are easy to take for granted. They are often the first garments we put on before heading out for the day but we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them or talking about them. For most of us, it is equally easy to forget how painful and harmful cold temperatures can be to your feet. It may seem like a simple gesture, but a single warm pair of socks can mean the difference between whether or not a person gets frost bite in extreme weather conditions.
“We started participating in Toasty Toes because it’s something simple we could do as individuals and as a clinic that would make a difference.” says Dr. Amy Heilman. Dr. Heilman and the West Lethbridge Family Chiropractic Clinic is participating in the Toasty Toes Sock Drive for the third time.
“There are so many needs and causes in the world; so many people who could use your help that you can feel overwhelmed and forget that there are small things you can do right now.”
Over the years, the sock drive has benefited from the clinic and chiropractors’ efforts, but it has also helped bring them closer to the community they serve in unexpected ways.
“We’ve been surprised and delighted by the generosity of our patients and sock drive donors. We expected a pair of socks or two but often, our patients will turn up with a pack of 20 socks.” recalls Dr. Heilman.
“It’s like the sock drive became a tradition. We have a patient who brings in socks every single year without fail. In fact, that’s how we discovered that we had forgotten to sign up for Toasty Toes last year! He brought in his sock donation without any prompting from us.”
On the other side of the province in Grande Prairie, Dr. Jennifer Adams-Hessel at the Northwest Wellness Clinic shared similar sentiments.
“In small towns like this, word of mouth is crucial in getting people on board but once people know what’s happening, everyone turns out.” Dr. Adams-Hessel says.
This is the Northwest Wellness Clinic’s first year participating in the drive and they have become community leaders amongst their colleagues in the Toasty Toes effort.
Although they are the only Grande Prairie clinic officially signed up for Toasty Toes, multiple clinics in town are accepting sock donations. At the end of September, Northwest Wellness Clinic’s office manager plans to go out and collect the donations from chiropractic clinics across town and then take them to the United Way.
“I’m from Toronto,” explains Dr. Adams-Hessel, “so I grew up seeing lots of community outreach and shelters for people who are experiencing homelessness to rely on. Grande Prairie doesn’t have that to the same extent. These kinds of community clothing drives fill that gap.”
In order to help fill that gap, the Northwest Wellness Clinic has set a goal of 1,000 socks and hopes to hear what other clinics have set as goals.
“We’re sort of aware that our neighbours are doing things but once we hear the numbers, it’s easy to get excited. It’s really encouraging!”
While most clinics have yet to publicly announce how many socks they currently have, the ACAC is aware that one clinic in Alberta has already raised over 10,000 socks. The provincial goal set for this year’s Toasty Toes Sock Drive is 25,000 socks and we look forward to announcing the final count after the sock drive concludes.
Step up and join in the Toasty Toes Sock Drive
Grande Prairie or Lethbridge may not be the place you call home, but there may be a clinic participating in Toasty Toes in your own neighbourhood. You can find a list at the bottom of this page about the sock drive.
Bring in your new, warm sock donations to a clinic close to home between September 1 to October 1 and help make sure everyone has warm feet this winter.