As a medical student, Chris Costello often encountered homeless people seeking treatment for foot-related ailments. During this period, Costello was hospitalized due to an illness and wound up sharing a room with a young homeless man named Matt who suffered from substance abuse issues.
Costello befriended the Prince Edward Island native and asked him if there was something the homeless population needed that most people weren’t aware of. Without hesitation, Matt said that he had a harder time finding clean socks than he did finding food – sometimes he wore the same pair for three months.
Coupled with this information, his observations as an intern and discussions with a podiatric surgeon in Las Vegas, Costello decided to start Toe2Toe two years ago, an organization dedicated to collecting and distributing new socks to homeless people in Montreal.
During his research, Costello discovered that without proper protection for our feet, cuts and lacerations can easily lead to bacterial infections that can spread to the bloodstream and other parts of the body resulting in serious medical conditions, including pneumonia and kidney failure.
Toe2Toe has partnered with Accueil Bonneau, another local non-profit group that provides resources to the homeless, to help manage and distribute the donations. This year, the goal is to collect more than 5,000 pairs of new socks and distribute them to homeless people in the downtown core on July 1. Socks can be dropped off directly at Accueil Bonneau (427 de la Commune St. E.), or donors can contact Toe2Toe to arrange a different drop-off location.
According to a 2015 survey conducted by the municipal government, there are more than 3,000 homeless people living in Montreal. Costello says they are asking people to donate primarily white socks since it makes it easier to spot blood or infections caused by cuts. The organization has also enlisted the help of St. Michael’s Mission, a non-profit organization that works directly with the homeless, for the distribution.
Costello also gives presentations in schools across the city to raise awareness for homelessness and invites students to organize sock drives of their own by collecting pairs from friends and family. The organization also accepts monetary donations.
For more information, visit toe2toe.org.