Annual “Socks for Homeless” drive puts collection bins around campus.
When thinking of items that homeless people may need during the cold winter months, coats, caps, gloves and scarves all come to mind, but not socks. Yet Dr. Sandy McGunigall-Smith has put a new spin on clothing donations, collecting socks in small bins throughout UVU’s hallways.
McGunigall-Smith, an associate professor in the Behavioral Science department, conceived her “Socks for the Homeless” drive eight years ago.
“My daughter was working with the homeless downtown [Salt Lake City] when she noticed a doctor take off his socks and give them to a homeless person because, he said, ‘They get blisters on their feet otherwise.’” She also noted that, “Sadly, socks are disposable for the homeless because they don’t have any place to wash them.”
McGunigall-Smith has implemented the drive every winter since 2004, even collecting over 1000 pairs one year, and says that women and children’s socks are especially needed. While she usually begins the month-long drive around Christmas because “that’s when people think about giving,” McGunigall-Smith delayed it this year because the weather was unseasonably nice. She says she and behavioral science students will continue collecting socks through the first week of March.
Although passers-by may notice empty collection bins, that’s only because the socks are collected at the close of each day.
“[Behavioral science] students collect the contents of the boxes every day – one year I noticed someone helping themselves [to the socks]. I would’ve been more than happy to give them a pair,” McGunigall-Smith said.
McGunigall-Smith distributes the socks to any place and person in need, from shelters in Provo and Salt Lake to individuals. Socks are an item most people have plenty of, and which everyone needs.
“Everybody’s got socks they don’t want,” McGunigall-Smith said.
By Deven Leigh Ellis
Asst. Life Editor