MONMOUTH COUNTY - On a cold winter day, families without a home or shelter can face major health risks like hypothermia, frostbite, blisters, and ulcers if they’re not able to keep themselves warm. That’s why Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey worked to establish “Socks for the Homeless” Day in New Jersey two years ago, and why their legislative office is now accepting donations of new and unused socks from today through February 10.
“Year after year, we ask shelters and state agencies what kinds of clothing people need most,” said Assemblywoman Downey (D-Freehold), who oversees new legislation impacting homeless services and assistance as Chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee. “And every year, we see warm, dry socks topping that list.”
“When you can’t take off your shoes because you don’t have a home to come back to, it’s easy to wear through any kind of footwear,” Assemblyman Houghtaling (D-Neptune) added. “But if you’re walking with unprotected feet over icy sidewalks, graveled paths, and asphalt roads, there’s a real risk of developing any number of health problems.”
The two legislators are joined by Senator Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch), a recent sponsor of legislation that aims to better connect temporarily homeless individuals and veterans with state programs and assistance.
“Socks are such a basic need for most of us, which makes it easy to forget how important they are in keeping your extremities dry, warm, and protected," said Senator Gopal. "When something so essential becomes a luxury for someone who can't afford it, even a small donation can go a long way - and even save a life.”
Donations of new and unused socks can be dropped off at the 11th District Legislative Office at 802 West Park Avenue, Suite 221 in Ocean Township. All donations will be given to local Monmouth County nonprofits and homeless shelters on “Socks for the Homeless” Day on February 14.
“When there’s nothing more than a thin layer of fabric between you and the elements, a pair of socks can sometimes be more important than food,” added Assemblywoman Downey. "With more than half-a-million Americans and nearly ten thousand New Jerseyans facing the challenges of homelessness, we believe that collecting socks is one of the many ways we can make a difference, and we’re deeply grateful to everyone whose donation will help us reach that goal.”
Houghtaling and Downey have also sponsored legislation that would expand the requirements for declaring a “Code Blue” in New Jersey during severe winter weather, allowing more families and individuals facing homelessness to obtain temporary shelter. Any residents looking for help with specific state programs and services to assist with costs of housing, utilities, or disabilities can contact the legislators’ office at (732) 695-3371 for assistance.