A remarkable feat: Montreal sock drive hits new record

Barry Christensen was hoping to gather 3,000 pairs of socks to donate to a local charity. He has raised much, much more than that.

'A warm pair of socks makes a difference in someone's life'

Barry Christensen has been amazed at Montrealers' generosity this year. (Rowan Kennedy/CBC)

When Barry Christensen started his sixth annual sock drive this year, he was hoping to receive enough donations to provide a local shelter with 3,000 pairs of socks.

Instead, to his surprise, he has already collected over 15,000 pairs for St. Michael's Mission in downtown Montreal — and the drive isn't over yet.

"It's amazing stuff," Christensen said."I may be at over 20,000 pairs."

Christensen, a paramedic, has been involved at the shelter for years. A few years ago, he started a sock drive, Sock It To Me.

Chantal Laferriere, director of St. Michael's, says she is overwhelmed by people's generosity.

"I'm so happy that people are thinking about us."

The shelter will shift operations to a winter schedule soon and Laferriere says: "We need all the help that we can get."

She hopes the 15,000 pairs of socks will last until next year.

Few people on the street have access to laundry facilities, so socks are often discarded when dirty. (Rowan Kennedy/CBC)

Donations often come in the form of money transfers to Christensen, who, once a week, goes to Costco and buys packages of socks.

Coming home from work, he has found socks in his mailbox. "Every little donation counts," he said.

But some donations can't fit in a mailbox.

Earlier this week, Christensen received a 10,000-pair donation from one Montreal family, the Sochaczevskis.

"We really take socks for granted," Cheryl Sochaczevski told CBC. "During the winter months, dry feet is a big issue because there's a lot of foot infections. So a simple thing of a clean pair of socks, a warm pair of socks makes a difference in someone's life."

When Christensen heard about the Sochazevskis' intention to donate, he connected the family directly to a manufacturer.

On Monday, 10,000 pairs of socks were dropped off at a friend's warehouse in Dollard-des-Ormeaux.

Competitive drive

On Friday, more than 2,000 pairs of socks were donated by Laurentide Controls, an industrial consulting firm, whose employees almost double their donation last year of 1,100 pairs.

"It's an easy way to make sure people's needs are met," said George Hatzigeorgiou, director of finance at Laurentide.

George Hatzigeorgiou, director of finance at Laurentide Controls, brings in his company's sock haul. Last year, they donated 1,100 pairs. This year, it was over 2,000. (Rowan Kennedy/CBC)

But, can there be too much of a good thing?

Laferriere isn't sure she has space to store the 15,000 pairs of socks, set to be delivered on December 11. Last year 5,000 pairs occupied a whole room.

"I don't even know what 20,000 pairs of socks would look like."