Vital People: Staying warm in winter with Cool Aid’s 10,000 socks campaign

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The staff at Kia Victoria are excited to be helping with the Victoria Cool Aid Society’s annual 10,000 socks campaign.

“It was a no-brainer for us living in this community and being part of this area of town where we do business. We constantly see the need, and we constantly see the people that would take advantage of that,” says Kia Victoria managing partner Brad Ostermann.

This is the 17th year for the fundraiser, which helps people experiencing homelessness and poverty stay warm in winter.

“It’s one of those things that sneak up on all of us, I think, every year,” the Victoria Cool Aid Society‘s Tracey Robertson says.

“You know, one minute it’s sunny and warm, and the next minute we’re in winter, and you can imagine what it does for the rest of us, imagine what that feels like living on the streets and not having a place to go.”

The socks are being distributed to more than 20 organizations from Victoria to Nanaimo, as well as Salt Spring Island, and with more people on the street and struggling, demand is higher than ever.

“In the last few years, especially the number of people we’ve seen on the streets, and the number of people in need, that has increased significantly where we are,” Brad explains. “We’re very close to some shelters and food banks, and so there’s quite a bit of traffic was the unhoused population, and it’s very sad.”

“It’s huge,” Tracey adds. “What you see on the street is what we see ten-fold behind the doors of the shelters and the housing sites and our health care facilities. So it’s just growing and growing, and the needs are increasing. They’re getting more complicated.”

Those on the front lines say health-care needs are growing, housing needs are increasing, and more mental health supports are desperately needed.

But something as simple as warm socks can make a big difference.

“People living on the street often never take off their shoes, and that was really compelling to me,” Tracey says. “I’ve never thought of that, to be perfectly honest, that they would go 24 hours a day, seven days a week, wearing the same shoes and the same wet socks, so it’s more important than you can imagine.”

Kia is matching donations up to $5,000 to help reach the 10,000 sock goal.

“We love being a part of this campaign,” Brad says. “It’s something that we feel is really easy for someone to participate in because literally with our matching, $1 will buy two pairs of socks and two pairs of socks could significantly change someone’s day.”

Donations are being collected until Nov. 30 online and at Kia Victoria.

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