Nine years ago, on an usually cold Christmas Day two Penticton women came up with a heart and foot-warming idea.
Sharon and her niece, who wish to keep their last names anonymous, were thinking of the guests waiting in the cold lining up for a turkey meal at the Soupateria.
Sharon noticed that on Christmas Day the Soupateria is “overflowing with volunteers and it’s wonderful,” so instead thought outside the box on how they could make a difference for those in need.
“One thing led to another and we thought, let’s give them some hot chocolate,” she said. “The light in their eye and the hugs and thank-you’s, it’s just so rewarding. It brings tears to my eyes. Now we look forward all year to this one day.”
Three years after she began serving hot chocolate, the brother of one of Sharon’s close friends who had been living on the street passed away shortly before the holidays. Her friend was told by his brother that one of the most important things for him was having clean and dry socks.
Having warm, dry feet is something most people don’t have to think about, but for those that do, a shipment of socks is amassing before they get shared on Christmas.
“We wanted to help his mother get through the season, so we thought, let’s take them some socks when we go meet them at the soup kitchen.”
Sharon was given permission from many businesses and organizations around Penticton to leave a collection box in their space. Over 300 pairs were collected the first year, and Sharon and her niece had trouble finding enough feet for them all. They even drove to Vernon on Boxing Day to drop off the excess at the soup kitchen there.
“Every place that we could find we dropped them off and everyone was so happy.”
Sharon said she’s especially excited that her five-year-old great-niece will be handing out socks and hot chocolate with them for the first time this year. Since beginning in 2009, Sharon said more than 1,500 pairs have been collected for the needy.
The boxes are in place to collect new and gently used socks until Dec. 22 and can be found at the Laughing Lotus Clothing Company at 537 Main St. and the Penticton Eagles headquarters at 1197 Main St.