The socks mission: Helping the homeless

A pair of clean socks is something many of us might take for granted, but one group found that a simple gesture – giving away free pairs of socks -- can make a big difference in the lives of people experiencing homelessness.

A pair of clean socks is something many of us might take for granted, but one group in Seattle found that a simple gesture can make a big difference in the lives of people experiencing homelessness.

An organization called We Count partnered with clothing maker Hanes, and the homeless advocacy group Invisible People to deliver 5,500 socks across the community Wednesday. That number is a pair of socks for every person experiencing unsheltered homelessness in Seattle.

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The group started at the homeless encampment on Market Street in Ballard and ended the day handing out socks at Westlake Center.

Graham is now the executive director of We Count, but as a teenager, he learned what it was like to have no place to call home.

"When I was living on the streets, I didn't have a backpack, I didn't have a supply of fresh socks. And you know it's the little things that can really make a difference," Graham explained.

For Graham, it was a small gesture that ultimately changed his life.

"When I was on the streets, somebody offered me a quarter to help me call my parents and that's what changed it for me," Graham said. "Really, what we try to find is where that catalyst is and try to help you give that to someone else."

Graham now hopes a pair of socks will be that small gesture that could help change someone else's life.

At the encampment in Ballard, the group found Ray Bainter and Sonia Murphy, both in need of those new socks.

"This is warmth and comfort mainly," Bainter said. " I mean, I can't thank you guys enough."

"It feels really nice; it's warm," Murphy explained. "It is the simple things like a pair of socks, pair of underwear, sometimes some of us can't get to the laundromat to do laundry."

While today it is a pair of socks, Graham hopes in the future it will lead to something bigger.

"You can be part of making a difference," Graham said. "The problem is not bigger than you; the solution is not bigger than all of us. We can do little things, like giving a pair of socks, to really make a difference in someone's life."

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If you want to help, there are several ways to get involved. We Count has donation boxes all around Seattle.