Last week in our community paper, the St. Thomas/Elgin Weekly News, there was an article about a good and caring citizen and chiropractor Dr. Denise Colledge. For the second year, she is collecting socks for children without any. According to her teacher friends, there are children coming to school in the dead of winter with shoes but without socks. So last winter, she collected over 600 pairs of new socks to be distributed to needy children.
This is a kind gesture, on the part of Dr. Colledge and all those who contributed. However, I was flabbergasted, not by the generosity of spirit that led to the donation of these socks, but by the fact that it was necessary. And I’m not going to talk about economic hardship and difficulty feeding and clothing a family in today’s economy.
I’m going to talk about several stores that operate in our town. You don’t have to leave the confines of St. Thomas to find plenty of socks cheap. You don’t even have to go to Walmart and buy the 12-pack of tube socks for $2.88 or whatever they cost. There’s a Goodwill store, a Salvation Army store, a community-based store downtown called Keepers and another very large thrift store called Bibles for Missions. These stores are where my socks come from, along with the rest of my clothes. There are bins full of socks – for babies, kids, men and women. A like-new pair of socks might run you 10 cents for kids, maybe 25 or 50 cents for adults.
In these stores you also find bins full of mittens and gloves, scarves and winter hats, similarly priced. A good winter coat might cost $5, maybe $10 for a dressy women’s coat. Yet, just in our town, there is an annual “mitten tree” collecting mitts, hats and scarves for kids and a winter coat drive by the Salvation Army and other churches so coats can be given away for free instead of the $5 usually charged at the Sally Ann store.
Being a life-long shopper at thrift stores, both when my financial situation necessitated it and when it didn’t, I was astounded by the mitten trees and the coat campaigns. I know just how cheaply you can outfit yourself and family in a thrift store, in style and in durability, especially if you apply the same bargain acumen that you use in any retail outlet.
But the socks! People who send their kids to school without socks in winter need more than a free pair of socks for their kids. They need life skills training, household economy management and basic training in common sense, if that’s teachable. In short, they need to be taught to come in out of the rain.
Value Village made thrift “the new chic” many years ago. So my advice for those who have psychological problems in buying second-hand? Get over it. If I ever set up a foundation to aid people, I would name it “Umbrellas for people who don’t know enough to come in out of the rain”.
I couldn’t find a website for Keepers. It is located at 613 Talbot St. There’s a lovely website for the Salvation Army Thrift Stores, but the St. Thomas store isn’t listed on it. It’s at 105 Edward St at First Ave. If you want to contribute new socks to Dr. Colledge’s drive, take them to 172 Centre Street in St. Thomas. She’ll be taking them to schools for distribution on December 15th.