What a sock really means

What a Sock Really Means
by Emerson Korum

Have you ever rolled your ankle? Or stubbed your toe? Or had athletes foot? If so, besides those moments of brief agitation, do you ever think about your feet?

We live in the world of consumers, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s debatably the greatest time in history to be alive, simply because anything you could ever want is right at your fingertips. The downside of that wonderful reality comes with a degree of removal from the importance of the things you own. You don’t think about the clothes on your back or the food in your fridge, but only because it’s always right there, which again, is not a bad thing. This is the ideal reality but unfortunately, it is not everyone's reality. In fact, over 500,000 people in the United States alone are living in a world where every single item in their possession retains an immense amount off pressure and value. Those 500,000+ people are the members of the homeless community.

The human spirit holds an immeasurable ability to overcome, but the human body is full of limitations. Those limitations start at our feet. They swell when we’re on them too long. They blister when we use them too much. They sweat and stink and embarrass us at parties. But without them, where would we be? Who would we be? We couldn’t dance or run or jump. Our mobility would be very limited. So, now that we agree feet are important, we can agree we need to take care of them, and since we have already taken care of our own, it’s time to start taking care of others. 

Socks are the most requested item at homeless shelters. Shockingly, they are also the least donated item at homeless shelters. Homeless people are on their feet a lot. Lack of transportation and a constant search for adequate shelter forces a life on their feet. Try to imagine one day running around without a pair of socks, much less a week or even months. These homeless individuals, especially in areas with like Minnesota that experience harsh winters and boiling summers, are dealing with a plethora of issues. When it’s hot, they get fungal infection. When it’s cold, the fear of frostbite and the potential of losing a foot altogether is always present.

So, what exactly does a sock do? Without a pair of socks, someone can experience severe frostbite within 30 minutes of exposure. A pair of socks can steeply diminish that potential simply by providing a layer of protection against the cold air and allowing for better circulation. When feet get sweaty, socks absorb moisture and lower the potential for infection. Socks also reduce friction between the foot and the ground, saving people from the dull agony of blisters. If you’re thinking “big deal, it’s just a blister.” consider this: a large portion of the homeless community is dealing with diabetes and protection from blisters is considered by some to be just as important as receiving medicine or insulin.

At Hippy Feet, we feel a sock means warmth and protection and consciousness about personal health, but what it represents is love. A pair of donated socks acknowledges that this human experience is a shared one. It means you care that someone will have one less thing to worry about. That’s what we care about; giving people the tools to take steps toward a better life, but you can’t step very far without a pair of socks.