‘Sockvember’ underway for Amherst homeless

By Chance Viles

The Student Leadership Center at the University of Massachusetts is striving to make a big difference for the homeless in the smallest of ways.

knitting iris/ Flickr

The Student Leadership Center is organizing “Socktober” and “Sockvember” to collect donations of new socks and basic goods. Anytime through November, donations can be made in support of Craig’s Doors, a homeless shelter in Amherst. The Student Leadership Center is aiming to collect 1,000 pairs of new socks in support of the shelter. According to a press release, contributors are encouraged to write their name on a paper sock and the Student Leadership Center will tape the socks to their windows.

“This project for me is really a concrete way for students to start connecting with and being aware of the community around them.  There are lots of conversations happening in the media about the cutting of benefits to the working poor, and it’s easy to overlook this when it doesn’t directly impact you,” said Dawn Rendell, assistant director of Residence Education for Leadership and Engagement. “While this is just a small step, I hope it will begin to help bring awareness to the issue and, potentially, lead to some larger conversations.”

Between now and the end of the month, students can donate new socks to the Residential Life Student Leadership Center at Moore Hall 101 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.. Students can also see the progress toward the goal of 1,000 socks in the form of a giant paper sock being colored in at the Student Leadership Center.

Right now the drive has collected a little over 200 pairs of socks, Rendell said.

“We are still a ways from our goal, but socks are still rolling in” she added.

Donations are also being taken for other basic goods like canned and non-perishable foods, but money is not being accepted as a donation by the Student Leadership Center. Although the donations were supposed to stop November 15th, socks are now being accepted after Thanksgiving break as suggested by students at the Residence Hall Association general body meeting.

“I’m hopeful that some extra time, a little more publicity and a greater awareness will encourage students and staff from across campus to get engaged. I hope students, whether they choose to support this drive or something else, will choose to get involved in a cause that matters to them and make a difference where and when they are able,” Rendell said.

“Socktober” was an idea started by the online viral video Kid President, who urges people to tape and photograph themselves helping the homeless and donating socks and other basic needs. In the video Kid President also urges people to donate money to an Arkansas homeless women’s shelter.

“Can you imagine what that would feel like if you didn’t have socks or a coat to keep you warm?” Rendell said. “More than anything, I hope all of us can pay a little more attention to everyone around us, the struggles others are facing and show some care and compassion.”

Chance Viles can be reached at [email protected]