Dartmouth woman determined to help homelessness situation one sock at a time

By Steve Gow

A Dartmouth woman known as the “queen of socks” is doing what she can to ensure people experiencing homelessness are able to keep their feet warm this winter.

Since January 2021, Mary Crosby has made it her personal hobby to hand knit and collect donated pairs of socks through her Facebook group, Socks for Shelters.

“It was just meant for my knitting friends,” says the 63-year-old retiree who knits about 50 pairs of socks a year herself.  “I figured with them, we could do a hundred pair a year.”

However soon after the grassroots group formed, she found herself receiving requests from others who wanted to donate socks to the cause.

Before she knew it, she was inundated.

“In the first year, we collected 5,546 pairs,” Crosby notes. “And last year, we had over 6,000 and so now members in the group are hoping this year, we’ll hit over 7,000.”

If the skyrocketing number of members joining the group are any indication, Crosby and the Socks for Shelters group are sure to hit that incredible mark.

Since she spoke to CityNews Halifax in October, the Facebook group has exploded from 800 members to more than 1,100 and it is still growing.

Crosby contributes that jump not only on the expanding numbers of people living in tents in the Halifax area but also on the public’s motivation to help those affected.

“(It’s) a need to help,” says Crosby about the group’s expansion.  “Every day at 6 o’clock you turn on the news and what is in our news lately — the homeless situation in HRM. Everyday it is in the news so people, they want to help.”

Crosby will collect donated socks until December 7 before passing on the warm winter wear to Soul’s Harbour Rescue Mission, the Halifax Shelter Society and Briony House for those in need.

“Socks — on any shelter list — is number one,” notes Crosby, who once relied on the services of a shelter herself years ago. “If you are on your feet all day, out in the cold and the wet, the first thing you’re going to wear out are your socks.”

She says without warm, dry socks, people are more susceptible to such medical conditions as athlete’s foot, trench foot, nail diseases and other ailments and with municipal officials recently reporting some 1,000 people sleeping rough in HRM, that means socks will be a precious commodity heading into the winter.

“As far as I’m concerned, the whole homelessness situation has gone out of control in our area,” says Crosby. “If I can do this little bit to help, I’m there.”

For more information, visit the Socks for Shelters website.

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