Humans unsheltered: Homelessness, cold feet and the Joy of Sox

By Molly Seaman
February 13, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 11.41.40 PM
Flickr Jim Fischer

As the temperature dropped to bitter single digits and the snowflakes began to fall on a dark winter night, Cabrini University students fell asleep warm in their beds dreaming of waking up to the first snow day of the year.

On that very same night, homeless men and women in Philadelphia sought protection from the storm looking for shelter where available. Due to the capacity, however, some were turned away.

According to, on a single night in January 2016, there were 549,928 people experiencing homelessness in the United States. 68 percent were sheltered and 32 percent were unsheltered.

Flickr Rev Stan

However what factors force these families and individuals to the streets? What causes them to be homeless?

More than 400,000 Philadelphians live below the federal poverty line according to Pew Research.

The poverty rate in Philadelphia sits at 26 percent. It has fallen slightly the past few years yet it is still one of the highest in the United States.

According to Project Home, a resident of Philadelphia would have to work 81 hours a week earning a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment.

Many do not realize that lack of affordable health-care is also a major contribution to homelessness in America.

The National Coalition for the Homeless reports that most people with low-incomes are unable to afford health insurance.

If a serious injury or illness in the family occurs, overwhelming expenses could result, forcing one to choose between paying hospital bills or rent.

Project Home also found that 30 percent of people that are homeless have a serious mental illness and two-thirds suffer from substance abuse.

Domestic Violence is another major cause of homelessness in Philadelphia particularly.

250 homeless individuals self-report as victims of domestic violence in the City of Brotherly Love a night according to Women Against Abuse.

All of these factors can seriously obstruct one’s god-given right to access, afford and maintain dignified housing.

15,000 people (including families) seek shelter on the streets of Philadelphia every year.

How many of these unsheltered individuals have the proper winter clothing to shield them from the harsh realities of the winter months?

How many do not even own a warm pair of socks to protect their feet from frostbite?

Creative Commons Zero

Something so simple, that so many of us take for granted.

Most people wear their socks until they are worn and then they throw them away. Hardly are they ever donated or, for that matter, donated NEW to those in need.

Furthermore, all humans require affordable housing, quality education, health care, adequate living wages and dignity. Which includes owning a pair of socks.

Tom Costello, founder of the Joy of Sox realized this growing problem in 2010 and decided that something needed to be done.

His mission? To provide joy to the homeless through the gift of socks.

The Joy of Sox works to provide thick wool socks that wick away moisture from the skin in order to protect the feet from loss of feeling, ulcers, blood poisoning and deep bone infection which often leads to amputation.

Flickr Franco Folini
Wikimedia Commons

Since its founding, the Joy of Sox has provided over 150,000 new pairs of socks to homeless men, women and children in Philadelphia and all over the country.

However, to continue their good work, donations and sock drives are crucial.

On Wed. Feb 15 Cabrini University will partner with the Joy of Sox to break the Guinness Book of World Records for the most socks collected and donated to the homeless. 

To participate, you can purchase your socks at any of the Sock Shop destinations on campus (Founder’s Hall Lobby, SEal office, Dixon Center) and bring them to the Sox for 60 event in Grace Hall from Noon-8pm. Alumni and friends of Cabrini can also buy socks to donate online here.

The current record for the largest sock drive in eight hours is 2,459 pairs of socks.

If you are looking for more ways to help fight homelessness in your city Project Home provides a list of ways to help here


Molly Seaman

Managing Editor of the Loquitur at Cabrini University. Colorado Born and Raised. 21 years old with a deep love for people, travel and education.

1 thought on “Humans unsheltered: Homelessness, cold feet and the Joy of Sox”

  1. Molly –
    Thanks for helping raise awareness about the plight of the homeless. And socks are just one small part. But such a vital part. They are rarely donated so that is the niche we fill.
    Thanks to Cabrini for holding the sock event that will not only help make a positive impact on the lives of the homeless we serve – but also set a Guinness World Record. Another great example of Cabrini reaching out to help those who need our help.
    Tom Costello, Jr.

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