SCHENECTADY — Dignity and security can come from something as common as a pair of socks. For children who have been neglected or are leaving an abusive situation, receiving a new pair of socks may be a bright spot in an otherwise very dark time.
October has been dubbed Socktober by organizations across the region and nation. During October, these organizations challenge the community to donate new socks that will go to help the homeless and children whose lives have been impacted by neglect or abuse.
Things of My Very Own is a Schenectady-based nonprofit that is participating in the effort. Often, when children leave a bad domestic situation, they do so unexpectedly or with little time to prepare or take personal belongings like clothes or a treasured toy.
Things of My Very Own aims to bridge the gap between what social services can provide and what a child needs.
So far, 15 area schools, businesses and libraries are hosting Socktober collection drives in the hopes of meeting the organization’s 5,000-sock goal.
“People don’t realize how important socks are,” said Rayn Boncie, CEO and Founder of Things of My Very Own. “Especially for homeless children.”
Boncie went on to explain that children will sometimes wear the same dirty or wet socks because there are no means by which to launder them.
Niskayuna schools are among those participating in Socktober collections. Meghna Tetambe, of the high school’s SAPE club, is participating in the effort for the first time.
“We’re very excited to help an organization that helps children,” Tetambe said. “I’m grateful to live in a loving and supportive environment and am sympathetic for those who are neglected.”
SAPE hopes to collect approximately 100 pairs of socks per week until the end of the month.
Craig Cares, a group within Niskayuna’s Craig Elementary School, is also participating. This will be the group’s second year collecting socks.
“This is about kids helping kids,” said parent and drive organizer Deanna Bouton. “This is an easy way to connect kids to other kids in the community.”
The collection efforts just began at the elementary school, and organizers hope to see more than 400 pairs of socks donated.
In 2016, Niskayuna-based SI Group challenged employees to contribute, and Boncie said that challenge netted 1,000 pairs of new socks for Things of My Very Own.
Clients are referred to Things of My Very Own by a range of people and organizations, including hospitals, community outreach centers, Child Protective Services, Department of Social Services, Salvation Army and others, Boncie said.
“Leaving an abusive situation can be a very traumatic experience in itself,” she said. “Many have had to leave their homes, schools or the one stuffed animal that was always by their side when things became too much. Things of My Very Own Inc. works to make the transition as simple and comfortable as possible.”
To that end, the organization provides mattresses, clothing, coats, brand new undergarments and socks, diapers, formula and other necessities that may have been left behind.
As the children or families begin to rebuild their lives, Things of My Very Own provides enrichment activities to support academics and life skills.
“Every client that enters the Crisis Intervention Center is treated as well as our biggest donor,” Boncie said. “The reception area resembles a living room. It is filled with plush sofas draped with decorative soft blankets, carpeting, dimmed lights, a fireplace and stuffed animals. We show these children and families that they are worthy of respect, which we believe is the first step toward them believing that they are worth more than what they have endured.”
For the people collecting the socks, Boncie aims to make it fun. Once the drive is over, the socks will be counted, and bragging rights will be awarded to the company, school and library that received the greatest number of donations.
“It’s a really, really fun event,” Boncie said.
Things of My Very Own is looking for socks in every size, from infant to adult, for boys, girls, women and men. Boncie said socks for boys are particularly needed. Shopping for girls’ socks can be fun, as the choices are often cute or funky; but boys also need fresh footwear.
For a list of businesses accepting sock donations, visit Things of My Very Own’s Facebook page. Socktober officially lasts until Oct. 31, but donations — monetary and otherwise — are welcome all year.