It’s easy to take a lot of our everyday items for granted, even a pair of socks.
Rachael Acker from the California women’s swimming & diving team and Nicole Beck from the Golden Bears’ women’s lacrosse team are trying to spread the word that a simple pair of socks can really help the homeless and less fortunate in society. They have started a charity drive called the Golden Bear Sock Drive.
At many Cal events like Bear Days and other athletic sporting events throughout the spring semester, fans will find bins around the particular venue that day for people to donate their socks to the less fortunate. Those who don’t have socks to spare but still want to help can donate with a monetary donation through their GoFundMe account.
“It has been so great seeing how much support we can get from people all over the country,” Beck said. “The power of the Internet and social media has allowed us to extend involvement to anyone on social media all over the country. It's amazing to see how many people genuinely care about this issue and share passions similar to Rachael and I. It's such a rewarding feeling to know that you are positively impacting other people's lives.”
Acker said the two became interested in starting a sock drive while donating their time at a soup kitchen last summer. Beck’s cousin had previously started a sock drive while he was a student at LSU, and that inspired them to start one of their own at Cal.
They wanted to contribute to the Berkeley community in a unique way and create something that could be passed down and continued in the athletic community after they graduate this spring.
With the less fortunate members of society needing help in many areas of their lives, it’s easy to underestimate how much a clean pair of socks can go a long way.
“Socks are one of the most needed and least donated items of clothing among the homeless population,” Acker said. “We just imagined having only one pair of socks and wearing them every day during the winter months and in the rain, etc. We decided that socks are an absolute necessity and everyone should have access to a clean, new pair of socks that isn’t worn down with holes.”
Members of the Cal community can find collection bins in the HPC Study Center, Haas Pavilion Computer Lab and ASC Computer Lab. Besides the Cal campus, Beck and Acker have also be venturing to local stores and collecting donations and discounted socks to contribute to the cause.
“The student-athlete community has been supportive,” Beck said. “We have gotten a lot of support from the faculty. The GBAC (Golden Bear Advisory Committee) participation has also helped. We are still trying to get more student-athletes involved as much as we can and continue to spread the word.”
While Acker and Beck have been collecting socks and donations this far, last Saturday marked the first time they personally handed out the socks to the less fortunate at the Newman Hall Soup Kitchen when the kitchen hosted approximately 200 guests in attendance for meals. Their goal is to raise $1500 to bring in enough money for donations in April and May when they return to the soup kitchen. At this point, approximately $555 worth of contributions has been donated on the GoFundMe page.
Their plan is to hand out socks on the first Saturday of each month from March through May. Then after Acker and Beck graduate, they’re hoping to pass the charity drive on to new Cal student-athletes to keep a hopeful new tradition growing.
“We hope that this can become a regular event, and that we can bring in more people to help, not only with collections but also to participate in the joy of making a true difference in someone’s life by handing them a pair of new socks,” Acker said.