Cedarvale Terrace residents and staff give back to the community through Socks 4 Souls

On a cold winter evening in February 2015, some friends sat around a dinner table and explored ideas on help to solving the problems of homelessness in Toronto. After much discussion, they united behind a simple idea: clean socks. Since walking is a primary form of transportation for homeless individuals, good foot health is imperative to access food, shelter, medical care and other community services. And so, Socks 4 Souls Canada was born – a non-profit, volunteer organization committed to contributing warmth, comfort, dignity, mobility and health to homeless people by providing them with new clean socks (text excerpted from Socks 4 Souls Canada).

Enter Cedarvale Terrace. 

In 2016, staff, residents and families at Cedarvale Terrace mobilized to support Socks 4 Souls and began hosting sock drives to collect as many donated pairs of socks as possible. After a few years of hosting an annual sock drive, the home decided to add a sock sorting event to the calendar.

“The sock sorting event was meant to allow residents to be part of the process of getting the socks out to the community following their efforts in the sock drive,” explains Abiola Awosanya, Programs Manager at Cedarvale Terrace. “The Residents’ Council actually came up with the idea and suggested we step up our volunteerism a notch. We reached out to Socks 4 Souls and were able to organize the event for our home relatively quickly.”

Four residents and two staff gather pose while sorting socks at a tableAlong with helping to give back to the community, the event also helped residents find a sense of purpose and connect over shared interests. While sorting socks, many of the residents reminisced about their previous volunteering experiences and shared stories from their hometown, chatting about their families (and even laundry!).

“A couple of the residents who attended had been volunteers in their own communities in the past and this gave them the opportunity to participate in an activity of past interest,” adds Awosanya. “There were lots of laughs. Residents had an opportunity to meet new people and be a part of an initiative that makes a difference in the city they live in.” 

The staff at Socks 4 Souls took great interest in the home’s residents, encouraging and congratulating them for coming out to volunteer on such a cold day and with doing their best with their individual capabilities. With the help of staff, the ladies participating developed a system: one group sorted by category (children’s or women’s), another group bunched the socks together for packaging and another group added labels.

The residents also had great fun, sipping tea and eating cookies while chatting amongst themselves. The best part? More than 300 socks were sorted in under three hours! 

“The feedback from this event was wonderful,” says Awosanya. “Our residents were very proud of themselves and happy to have been a part of this initiative. We are all looking forward to doing it again!” 

In photo: Residents Catherine Soriando, Valentina Audit, Lorraine Konzalman and Fredrica Maxine are joined by staff members Monica Borges and Abiola Awosanya while helping to sort socks for Socks 4 Souls Canada.