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Knocking socks off to help the homeless

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Winnipeg winters can chill even the heartiest of souls. Being homeless and forced to sleep on the streets or go without the clothing necessary to protect oneself from the bitter winds makes for a struggle to survive no one should have to endure.


Crescentwood resident Tim Burt has decided to make an impact — literally from the ground up. The Knock Your Sock Off annual sock drive in support of the Siloam Mission is a community initiative to collect new and lightly used men’s winter socks to help keep the community warm this winter.


Burt,  president, CEO and CIO of Cardinal Capital Management, Inc., realizing the power of giving back to the community and in 2009, established the Cardinal Foundation to provide focus for the firm’s charitable activities. With the assistance of a tremendous staff, the Cardinal Foundation supports charities that directly make a positive impact on our communities — small organizations that don’t often get high-profile exposure and dollars.


Emily Burt, president of the Cardinal Foundation said "We were continuously getting requests for donations from a wide variety of charities and worthwhile causes. We realized that we had the opportunity to be more proactive in our approach to supporting the community we do business in."


The Cardinal Foundation has been supporting Siloam Mission for a number years with both volunteer hours and monetary donations but wanted to do something special.


"We realized that something as simple as getting socks for those that use the services of Siloam Mission can be a huge challenge. From this need and our desire to help in small but impactful ways, the Sock Drive was started," Emily Burt said.


Now in its fourth year, the Knock Your Socks Off campaign goal was set at 6,000 pairs, which was easily met, thanks in part to corporate sponsors.


"McGregor Socks donated more than 2,500 pairs and Mark’s Work Warehouse came on board this year with all their six Winnipeg locations serving as drop-offs." Burt said.


"This type of corporate support is more than we could have hoped for four years ago when we initially conceived of holding a drive to help Siloam meet their needs."


Judy Richichi, director of finance and development with Siloam Mission, said the program satisfies a very basic need.


"During the cold months people go from hot to cold temperatures throughout the day. Our body naturally heats up and our feet sweat when we finally make our ways indoors. As we return outside, if wearing wet socks, our feet become susceptible to  freezing and frostbite. Being homeless, our clients need to change their socks more often to prevent long term issues with their feet." Richichi said.


The socks are made available through Siloam’s clothing program, at which clients get to pick up to five items each day.


"We can be giving away upwards of 500 pairs a week," Richichi said.  


"We are only serving a small portion of the community that requires proper clothing regardless of the time of year. We are so grateful for the Cardinal Foundation and the Knock Your Socks Off program as it makes a difference to the lives of our clients in a very positive way."


The drive is complete for this year but donations of socks, boots and long johns are still being accepted at Siloam Mission, at 300 Princess St.


For more information on the Cardinal Foundation and Tim Burt’s efforts, visit website cardinal.ca/foundation/


Carolyne Braid is a community correspondent for Crescentwood. You can reach her at carolyne.braid@gmail.com.

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