Nfld. & Labrador

$20 Lady: Let's sock it to Christmas in style

A fundraising campaign with a twist is a great way to help homeless adults, elderly shut-ins, single parents and others, writes columnist Dara Squires.
Columnist Dara Squires picked up some inexpensive items for the United Way's Stuff-a-Sock campaign. (Dara Squires)

I’ve had the opportunity to experience low-income living first-hand. Even in my darkest times, though, I’ve always been fortunate enough to have family and a home.

Maybe that’s why, at Christmas, I always try to concentrate on not just typical charities, but also make an effort to contribute to a local charity that helps adults who may not have family and a home.

The Stuff-a-Sock campaign distributes donated gifts to homeless adults, elderly shut-ins, single parents and at-risk individuals living with mental illness.

This year they’ve received requests for at least 1,300 "socks."

Stuffing a sock is easy. They provide a list on their website of essential basics and suggested extras.

Some unused items found around the house helped round out a donation for the Stuff-a-Sock campaign. (Dara Squires)

The kids and I discussed this. It started with my daughter asking why Santa doesn’t give me a stocking.

I told her Santa concentrates on children, and there are enough of them, but that sometimes adults, in the spirit of Christmas, make stockings for each other – like my parents did for me one year.

We discussed what kinds of things adults would want in their stockings.

"Coffee!" my eldest son said.

"Candy!" my youngest said.

I told them the list of things we’d be stuffing in a sock. The United Way suggests personal hygiene items such as a toothbrush, soap and feminine hygiene products. They also suggest small extras, like chocolate and coffee.

Let's start with some socks

When it was time to stuff a sock, first I had to find a nice pair of warm socks. I picked up a set of two pairs at Sobeys for $1.99.

Then I took a look in my own cupboards for some of the things on the essentials list. I often pick up extras of toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, etc., when it’s on sale.

I also have a small box of "extras" in which I keep small gift-type items I’ve received or bought.

Between my stock of sale items and my gift box, I came up with a toothbrush and cover, toothpaste, floss, soap, shower gel, foot lotion, hand lotion, a pretty scarf, a Christmas book and decoration, and nail polish.

With my list in hand and the items I had already scratched off, I then took a peek around Shoppers Drug Mart as I was picking up some items for my own family.

There I bought a nice deodorant for $2.99, a large bottle of moisturiser for $3.99 and a gigantic chocolate bar for $2.99. All items were on sale and while I knew some of these might be cheaper at the dollar store, I wanted to make sure I got quality items.

Finishing my list

Then I hit the dollar store to finish my list. I picked up good lip balm for $1.25, dry shampoo for $2.00 and a hairbrush for $1.25, a pack of sanitary pads for $1, handwarmers for $1, and an instant coffee mocha mix for $1.

All told, I spent $20.44, taxes in.

I think we can forgive my 44-cent overage, as it was for a good cause.

The United Way is accepting sock donations (or donations of the basic items or monetary donations) until 4:30 p.m. today, Dec. 3.

If you want to donate but can’t get it there in time, contact them by email:


Dara Squires is a single mother of three, working, living, and scraping by in St. John’s.