In the season of giving, socks often an afterthought

Howard County Times

As many folks bustle about, shopping for presents to tuck into stockings, others are focused on another type of footwear.

Socks are in great need at shelters this time of year. To address this shortage, River Hill graduate Raj Topiwala has set out to collect 600 pairs of new socks to donate in time for the holidays.

Although socks are often an afterthought in everyday life, it is the most requested item by homeless shelters.

Topiwala provided this scenario: “Put on a clean pair of socks and go about your normal day. Instead of changing when you get home, imagine you don’t have any more socks and cannot clean your current pair. It’s cold outside, so you can’t take them off either; they’re important tools for staying warm. Sleep in your socks. Even if you shower, put your dirty socks back on afterwards. Continue this for several months, wearing the same pair of socks the entire time. Could you do it?”

As homeless people are often on their feet for large amounts of time, foot care is essential. Yet resources tend to go towards food and shelter, leaving hygiene unaddressed.

“Poor foot hygiene significantly increases chance of infection,” said Topiwala, an EMT.

Socks collected during the drive will be donated to the Catholic University of America Foot Clinic and the Berkeley Food and Housing Project. Topiwala’s mother runs the monthly foot clinic at Catholic University out of Miriam’s Kitchen in Washington. Staffed by nursing students and volunteers, the popular event provides basic podiatric care, connects patients with other resources and provides free socks and foot-care products to the homeless population of Washington.

Topiwala, currently a graduate student at UC Berkeley, volunteers at the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, which provides food, housing and social support to the homeless population of that area.

“Something as simple as a pair of socks can have a significant effect on the health and comfort of someone, an especially important thing for those living in the harshest conditions,” he said.

The Holiday Sock Drive for the Homeless has been such a success that Topiwala, who originally set out to collect 100 pairs of socks, has increased his goal to 600 pairs, or an estimated $800. Monetary donations may be made online or in person. He is also accepting new, unopened men’s crew style socks.

For information, contact him at rtopiwala@yahoo.com.

If you haven’t had a family portrait taken yet, there is still time to do so. Local photographer Deb Pacheco will be at Kendall Hardware on Saturday, Dec. 22, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Dress in your holiday finest or festive pajamas for a walk-up photo session. Pacheco will offer eight options of backdrops. Printed photos and digital copies will be available on site. If you can’t make it to Kendall’s, Pacheco schedules photo sessions on her Clarksville farm where you can choose from a variety of backdrops and farm settings as well as have the opportunity to dress in costume as part of a live nativity scene. You can also have your picture taken with baby calves and baby goats! For more information, send an email to deb@debsstudios.com.

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