Warm Feet, Warm Hearts: Helping Our Neighbors in Need
What do you give a group of 18- to 24-year-olds who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless during the winter?
As much warmth as you can.
When we heard that socks were one of the least-donated, and most-requested, items by those who are displaced, we scoured our warehouses and asked our suppliers to pull together what they could. On Friday, Nov. 16, we delivered thousands of socks to New Avenues for Youth in Portland, Oregon, to be distributed to their young clients in need. It's part of a total donation of 15,000 pairs of socks for displaced people in our communities across KEEN locations in the United States and Canada, from our KEEN Fan Engagement Center in Kentucky to the KEEN Garage in Palo Alto, Calif. Meanwhile, in Europe and Japan, our coworkers donated shoes, socks, and clothing to their local shelters.
“It’s amazing,” says Hana Sant, event and volunteer manager at New Avenues for Youth, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention and intervention of youth homelessness. “Socks are something we are always in need of. We’ll probably be able to continue supplying our programs with socks for many, many months.”
At KEEN, we think foot health and comfort are important for overall wellness, particularly to those who are outside and on their feet for long periods of time. And when you don’t have a change of clothes, a pair of new, warm socks is a small item that can make a big difference.
“It’s already cold, and it will continue being cold for a while longer, so we look for donations of coats, sleeping bags, blankets—and socks are always a huge need. Laundry facilities aren’t super available to a lot of the people we work with. So unfortunately the same pair of socks doesn’t always stick with them for very long. Socks, underwear, and toiletries are the things we constantly go through.”
New Avenues for Youth provides food, clothing, hygiene, and shelter, as well as job training and employment services to kids in need transitioning to adulthood. Hana Sant, above, explains that many are transition age foster youth or foster care alumni, and when they age out of care they no longer have access to the same kinds of services needed to support them.
After donating boxes and boxes of new socks, a few of us stuck around to cook and serve youth a hot meal. With a warm meal and warmer feet this winter, we hope it will help give at-risk youth a little extra comfort for the holidays and beyond.
“A lot of our youth don’t get a lot of new items given to them, especially during the holidays, which is an emotionally charged time for everyone,” Hana says, “especially if you don’t have a home to go back to. It’s nice to see them be able to have something new that they can take with them but also knowing it’s going to serve an awesome purpose, which is keeping them warm.”
Helping Make A World of Difference Around the World
Our coworkers around the KEEN world also took the opportunity of Giving Tuesday to give a little extra warmth for the winter:
In the Netherlands, we teamed up with Leger des Heils (Salvation Army) and delivered 800 pairs of warm shoes to two shelters in Rotterdam plus warm clothing donated by employees. "We got lots of smiles and happy dances, received blessings and even saw some tears of happiness," says Patricia Guba, KEEN Europe.
In Canada, we donated socks to the Yonge Street Mission in Toronto, and then several KEEN employees volunteered with Circle of Care Meals on Wheels to deliver meals to isolated seniors (many of whom were Holocaust survivors) who aren't well enough to do their own grocery shopping or cooking.
Donating new or used items that provide warmth and volunteering to prep and serve meals are two great ways to make a difference to those in need this winter. For more ideas, see our full list of 10 ways to spread warmth and share how you are taking action in your community with #BetterTakesAction.