New Kensington woman organizes sock drive to benefit homeless shelters
People are generous when it comes to donating new and gently used clothing, says Michelle Gibb, executive director of the Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center.
“The things that don’t show up in clothing pantries or clothing closets are new socks and underwear, which is really something you can’t have used,” Gibb said. “That is an ongoing need.”
Joyce Ann Ward-Pettis, of New Kensington, wants to help with one of those overlooked needs. She is putting together the first “Socktober Drive,” which aims to collect new socks through the month of October.
Socks of all sizes, colors, patterns and varieties are wanted, but they need to be new and unused.
“I’m not asking for money,” she said. “I’m just asking for your socks. Could you please donate some socks?”
Two of the drop-off locations are Rivers of Life in Arnold, her church where she is hospitality coordinator, and Salon PO in New Kensington, where she works as a stylist. Other drop-off sites include Bibleway Christian Fellowship, Liberty Tax Service and Urban Image, all in New Kensington.
“It’s growing bigger than I could have ever imagined in a short time,” she said.
Ward-Pettis hopes to collect 1,000 pairs of socks, which will go to the HOPE Center and to the Allegheny Valley Association of Churches. The association oversees a homeless shelter that rotates among eight churches in the area, including Rivers of Life, which provide food and shelter for one week at a time when their turn comes around.
“My goal isn’t that big,” she said. “I really just want to see how much we can do. If this turns out to be something that really takes off, I want to do it every year.”
There are no other shelters for the homeless between the Alle-Kiski Valley area and Pittsburgh, Gibb said.
“There’s so many people suffering from homelessness in our area. Something as simple as socks are a big deal,” Ward-Pettis said. “I can’t help everybody, but I can help somebody.”
Gibb is grateful for Ward-Pettis’ efforts.
“We can’t do this work without strong community support,” she said. “ It always encourages me when you know that there are wonderful people in the community who are out there without being asked supporting the effort.”
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .