Nova Scotia

Snookie's Socks are saving the soles of people in need this Christmas

Christmas socks may rank with Christmas coal as a gift for many people, but if you live on the streets, a good pair of socks can save your soles. 

A retired RCMP officer and his fitness friend are teaming up to give new wool socks to people in need

Ken Snook shows some of the socks he bought at Costco with donations. He says finding 500 pairs can be a challenge, so he starts early. (Submitted by Ken Snook)

Christmas socks may rank with Christmas coal as a gift for many people, but if you live on the streets, a good pair of socks can save your soles. 

That's why two Halifax friends are gathering hundreds of pairs of socks this month to donate to people in need. 

The campaign, known as Snookie's Socks, started with Luke MacDonald's FitItForward campaign. MacDonald, a partner at the Halifax running store Aerobics First, began donating gently used shoes a few years ago. 

"Shoes and socks are actually [like] food. They energize, and they take about a year to digest. But they're as essential as a healthy meal," he says. 

He was fitting shoes for homeless people a few years ago when he realized there was more to the problem. "It was a nasty, cold and wet day, and they had literally taken their socks off because the socks made their feet colder. I slowly figured it out: it's the cotton socks," he says.

Luke MacDonald packs up a pile of donated socks at Aerobics First. (CBC)

He started noticing abandoned cotton socks around the city and figured many people on the street chucked their cold, clinging socks and did without. 

"We have trench foot in Halifax, if you can imagine that. That's a World War I foot disease."

So when his friend Ken Snook, a retired RCMP officer, asked him how he could help one day, MacDonald knew exactly what he could do. 

"As the words were coming out of my mouth to Luke, saying I'd get 500 pairs, I was thinking to myself: what are you doing? But it took off," Snook says. 

Snook donated hundreds of socks to charities helping homeless people last year. (Submitted by Ken Snook)

Snook started gathering Kirkland wool socks. He ran an online fundraiser asking people to give $5 per pair of socks. Others donated new wool socks to Aerobics First. In 2018, Snook gathered 750 pairs of new socks. 

He's hoping to match that this year. 

"It warms the heart. If you're not a grateful person, [you will be] when you deliver these and see the smiles," Snook says. "We used to always joke about getting socks for Christmas, but now it means something. It just fills the heart."

George Clark recently stopped by Aerobics First to donate a pair. "Someone else is going to get a whole lot more pleasure out of me spending $20 just to give someone else the benefit of having warm feet throughout the day," he says. 

One of those pairs made it to the feet of Michael Smith as he waited for lunch at Souls Harbour Rescue Mission.

"It gives you the sense of confidence and a good feeling. It feels great to put on a new pair of socks," he says. 

Michael Smith says new socks go a long way to making life more comfortable. (CBC)

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