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The homeless wish it was also raining socks

November 26, 2014


This is the time of year when people think about collecting and donating warm clothes  for the homeless people — things like coats and boots and socks. Thank you everyone.

Honestly though, this time of year Metro Vancouver’s homeless people don’t need warm coats and boots. They need 100 percent waterproof coats and boots.

In our winter wet equals cold, dry equals warm

If you think about it, heavy cloth coats or down-filled nylon jackets are a terrible liability in steady rain. Far better to have just a thin rain poncho — underneath that, homeless people can layer-up for warmth just like everyone else..

As for socks. Yes. homeless people need all the socks they can get their hands on. But I’ve been asking every homeless person I can find and so far there is 100 percent agreement — we don’t need them to match.

As we enter the perpetually rainy season of a Vancouver winter, understand that the majority of homeless people in Metro Vancouver are wearing leaky footwear, often running shoes (often second-hand) that absorb water like sponges.

Having wet hands or wet hair isn’t annoying but wet shoes and socks feel singularly and remarkably disgusting.

But even if you can’t do anything about your wet shoes, simply changing into a dry pair of socks makes a world of difference.

In steady rain, homeless people will try to treat socks as disposable — changing into a dry pair as often as their need and supply allows.

Mismatched socks of the world unite!

I’m not saying don’t buy socks for the homeless. What I am saying is that all the mismatched socks people and laundromats end up with could help make a real difference in an otherwise sopping wet homeless person’s day.

And not just homeless people either. All the impoverished types who — rain or shine — comb through the back alleys collecting returnable beverage containers.

Many binners, whether they’re homeless or living in hotel rooms in the Downtown Eastside or in the new social housing units in other parts of Vancouver, are in and out of the elements (mostly out), for almost 18 hours a day.

If you accumulate an even-numbered little pile of mismatched socks, I would encourage you to tie them up, clean and snug, in a white plastic bag (to keep them dry). Use a black marker to write on the bag, something like: “Free clean dry socks!” and leave the bag by your garbage/recycling containers.

Hang the bag off the dumpster or try to tuck it bag out of the way of rain — maybe put it right in the Container blue bin.

If a binner-slash-homeless person finds the bag of socks I’m sure they will appreciate it. I know I would. And if they don’t think they need the socks they will either leave them for the next binner or they will take them to make sure they get to someone who does need them.

In a perfect world, no one would be homeless. And in a world approaching perfection all of Metro Vancouver’s homeless people would have access to good waterproof jackets and footwear.

In the perfectly imperfect world we live in I’d at least like people to understand that their junk single socks are yet another kind of trash that homeless people would treasure. Click the image to enlarge it.

  1. Slowcrow permalink

    Wonderful post . Irrefutable logic. Cold and crisp is healthy. Torrential rain and wind is very uncomfortable, if not potentially deadly. Watch most critters, when the weather”s nippy, they get frisky. The (yoga) mat program only opens the shelters -3 and colder. Climate change is making that rarer (here). Soaking wet mammals are prone to sickness. If dogs were walking around unable to get out of the rain, THAT would NOT be tolerated……..

    • In fairness to dogs, they pump a lot of money into the economy. I had an adroit comparison between wet homeless people and wet dogs but I cut it. The powerful dog lobby got to me.

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