Sock drive helps homeless in Fort McMurray

By Lindsay Ducharme

Many Canadians are basking in the cooler temperatures of September, far from worrying about the harsh weather that winter will surely bring.  Fort McMurray residents, however, know better.  Having already experienced our first frost of the year, preparing for the cold weather in September is not only reasonable, but also necessary for some.  It is for this reason that the Canadian Institute of Public Heath Inspectors (CIPHI) have decided to dedicate the entire month of September to collecting socks for the less fortunate in the community.

“We are having a sock drive throughout the month of September where we are collecting new pairs of socks and they will be donated to agencies that serve the disadvantaged in Fort McMurray,” said Claudette Parker-Allotey, Public Health Inspector/Executive Officer

“It’s a provincial initiative, there are many other areas across the province that are also holding a drive and donating socks to agencies within their communities.”

CIPHI has been holding the community sock drive for the last four years.  The donation drive was created in response to CIPHI members in Edmonton recognizing a high demand for clean socks among community agencies that assist the homeless. “A decision was made to create an initiative where we take the month of September and collect socks and donate it back,” Parker-Allotey explained.  All socks collected during the drive must be new, the warmer the better, and will remain in the Fort McMurray community.

Fort McMurray’s long, unforgiving winters make the sock drive especially important in the community. Clean, warm socks can make all the difference to an individual who spends any amount of time in the sub zero temperatures, which are all too common during the winter months.

“It’s very important for the public to donate because most of us are lucky enough to have a whole drawer of socks, and we are able to keep warm during the winter.  We are able to have a clean pair of socks everyday that will keep our feet warm and in good condition.  But unfortunately there are a large number of people in our own community who do not have that luxury.  It’s something small that many of us take for granted that we can do together and help prevent foot related health issues amongst the disadvantaged,” she stressed.

This year the local CIPHI in Fort McMurray have set a lofty goal of collecting 1,000 pairs of socks.   Though Parker-Allotey admits the goal is high, she believes the community will step up to the plate and help the organization reach their goal.

Those interested in donating new socks to the drive can do so by arranging a donation pick up with a CIPHI inspector by calling the office at 780-791-6078, or by visiting the Northern Lights Hospital between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. and dropping their donating off with volunteers set up in front of the cafeteria during the month of September. There is also a donation box for socks set up at the Public Health Unit building in Thickwood.