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As Winter Arrives, Socks Becoming An Essential Need For City's Homeless Population

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The Coalition for the Homeless says every night, more than 62,000 people stay in New York City homeless shelters and thousands more stay on the streets.

CBS2's Ali Bauman reports there's one item that donation drives rarely get but desperately need.

Socks, it's an everyday item many of us take for granted, but for those in need it's essential to staying warm and staying healthy.

"It's a proven fact that socks are one of the most needed but least donated items in shelters across the United States," Brent Henry of Operation Foot Work said.

"People tend to wear them until they're worn out."

MORE: World Kindness Day: Ways To Give Back And Help Others Stay Warm This Winter

That's why Brent Henry decided to launch a sock drive called Operation Foot Work. He's hoping to collect more than 2,000 new socks through the end of December to donate to homeless New Yorkers across the city. It's an issue Henry says he knows all too well.

"I'm probably not your typical face of a homeless person. I've been homeless for probably the last three years, I have a job, I'm well maintained and sustained, but housing is the obstacle," Henry added.

Without a place to call your own, Henry says the feeling of owning something new, something meant just for you, goes a long way. Socks in particular can prevent against a number of health related issues.

It takes just 30 minutes to get frost bite in sub-zero temperatures. Wet socks breed bacteria that cause infections. Lastly, more than one million Americans have diabetes putting them at a greater risk of skin injury, infection, and even amputation.

"So many of us are just one missed paycheck away from homeless and we need to make sure we're constantly fighting for solutions that get at the root cause of homelessness instead of vilifying or ignoring our neighbors that have fallen into the cracks of a broken system," Jacquelyn Simone from the Coalition for the Homeless said.

Simone says it's vital to reach out to our homeless neighbors and try to lend a helping hand when possible. The coalition just launched its own holiday drive, collecting new, unwrapped toys for children in need. Every night, 22,000 children will stay in a city shelter.

"When many kids are thinking about what presents they want around the holidays we need to also ensure we're thinking of homeless kids and kids in households where their parents may not have the resources to get their kids what they really want," Simone said.

The drive just started but already boxes of toys are piled high at the coalition office. Last year, 10,000 toys were collected. This year, the coalition is hoping to break that record with 1,000 more.

If you would like to donate or help out, contact Socks can be shipped to:

Art2Ink Tattoo Studio
2295 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd
New York, NY 10030
C/O Brent Henry
4809 Avenue N #248

Brooklyn NY 11234


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