There are hundreds of thousands of homeless veterans in the United States.
At the beginning of the year, the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention estimated there are more than 1,600 in Indianapolis.
Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in the state’s capital city, is dedicated to helping homeless veterans find jobs and provide them with food, shelter and necessary items.
When Indiana Podiatry Group decided to do something to assist the organization four years ago, more than 1,100 socks were collected and distributed along with blankets and Rx Crocs.
That jumped to 2,800 pairs of socks in 2016 and nearly 4,000 in 2017.
The goal this year is to continue that upward trend.
Through Dec. 31, people can drop off donations of new or gently used socks, gloves, mittens, scarves and blankets for adults at any of the seven Indiana Podiatry Group locations, including at 1239 E. Fourth Street Road, Seymour. Monetary donations to buy these items also will be accepted.
Once again, there is a competition between the offices to see who collects the most. The Tipton office, led by Dr. Nathan Graves, has won the past two years.
“He has gotten pretty cocky about it,” Dr. Walt Warren of the Seymour office said, smiling. “Actually, last year, we did a little trophy for it and gave it to him, and he said, ‘Just leave it in my office.’ We want to dethrone him, if you will, at least give him a run for his money. Now, it’s someone else’s turn. That’s why we want to unseat him.”
Warren and his family used to collect shoes for people and conduct a distribution event. Over the course of the years, more than 20,000 shoes were handed out.
Then he realized there’s a real need for socks and blankets for homeless veterans.
“We had a veteran who worked in our company, and he said, ‘Why don’t you do something for the vets?’ and he said, ‘This is a need,’” Warren said. “We thought it was a great idea. The logistics of the shoes, it was very difficult, so that’s how we came about doing the socks.”
Warren said socks are important because there are a lot of foot problems and wounds that develop as a result of people either not wearing socks or having poor socks.
“It’s just good for the health, and that’s what we’re trying to promote is foot health,” he said.
When he learned many homeless veterans don’t have socks, that made the collection drive even more important.
“Our veterans do so much for our country, and a lot of times, it’s thankless,” Warren said.
Having two nephews who did tours in Afghanistan and a father and a father-in-law who served during wars, it’s personal to Warren.
“I never had to serve in the military. I was never needed in the military, and so it’s kind of a way to say ‘thank you’ to our veterans for all they do,” he said of the sock drive.
Warren said it’s all about bringing awareness to veterans and showing appreciation for them.
“Sure, I can say foot health, but it really comes down to the needs of our veterans,” he said. “So often, they are not met. We’ve all seen the problems with the hospital system and the veterans hospitals. It’s just some way to increase awareness of our veterans and say ‘thank you’ to them.”
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”At a glance” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
Indiana Podiatry Group is accepting new or gently used socks, gloves, mittens, scarves and blankets for homeless veterans in and around central Indiana from now until Dec. 31 for its fourth annual Sock it to IPG sock collection drive.
Donations may be dropped off at the Seymour office at 1239 E. Fourth Street Road.
All donations will be presented to the Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit organization dedicated to helping homeless veterans find jobs and providing them with food, shelter and necessary items.