Sometimes giving comes from unlikely places. This story traces mismatched socks from North Carolina to Vermont to the NOAH Shelter.
The socks, by a company called Sol Mate Socks, are made of multi-colored cotton, and they purposefully don’t match. The company’s motto is “Life’s too short for matching socks.” Housing Assistance Corporation recently received a donation of socks to be given to homeless clients.
It all started with Donna Thomas of Sandwich, who co-owns the gift shop Snow Goose Shops, which is located on the corner of Tupper Road and Route 6A in Sandwich Village. The shop was started by her father, David Hadley, who still co-owns it.
Donna first found out about the work of Housing Assistance Corporation around 2007 through selling special Christmas cards designed by Marieluise Hutchinson for DYECH to benefit HAC’s Project Prevention program.
After learning about HAC, and in particiular, NOAH, Donna organized clothing drives for homeless people who stay there. She sends out an email to friends and customers requesting donations of gently used clothing, socks, blankets and towels. She recalls one time when she was dropping off items at NOAH and some of the homeless clients came out to thank her. “It’s humbling,” she said.
When asked her reason for donating to NOAH, she said, simply, “There but for the grace of God, I’m not on the streets. So many people are one paycheck away from it.”
One product that Donna sells at her stores are the colorful mismatched socks from Sol Mate Socks, an environmentally-friendly family-owned company with offices in South Stratford, Vermont and Portland, Oregon. Donna said she discovered the socks at a wholesale trade show 10 years ago and has been selling them ever since. “One of the biggest draws for me besides being mismatched and made of cotton is that they are made in the USA,” she said.
Donna found out that the company periodically donates its “seconds” socks to homeless shelters, so she contacted HAC staff and put them in touch with Sol Mate. As a result, Sol Mate generously donated $700 worth of socks to HAC to be given to clients at NOAH, as well as Angel House, Village at Cataumet, and Carriage House.
Randy Wakerlin, co-owner of Sol Mate Socks with his mother, Marianne Wakerlin, said his company likes to donate to charities, in particular homeless shelters and children’s charities.
“We feel like our socks are bright and colorful and they’re a very happy product and we feel we want to share that with folks who might need a little cheer in their lives,” he said.
The socks, made out of recycled cotton, are thick and very durable. “They make a nice year-round sock,” he said.
The company also makes mittens, hats and scarfs, which they also donate when they have overages.
The company has two distribution centers, Portland, Oregon and Stratford,Vermont. All the socks are knitted in North Carolina, and the hats are made in North Carolina and Vermont. The mittens are made in Oregon.
Besides going to people who could use the socks, the donations also help the company maintain its zero waste policy. As much as possible they try to keep any waste out of landfills, Randy said.