With winter in full swing, people experiencing homelessness need warm blankets, coats and socks.
In mid-November, Larry Snyder hosted a sock drive at his local Starbucks that collected a total of 4,334 pairs of socks for the homeless.
Snyder, a Redmond resident, said socks are one of the most sought out items during the cold months.
“Socks are the number one needed item for people that are living unsheltered or in shelters,” Snyder said. “That is the lifeline to staying warm. Having your feet covered with warm socks.”
It all started four years ago when Snyder wrote his first book, “Miracles in Montanare: Ten Years in Tuscany.” His publisher had decided to give away two pairs of socks to local shelters for every book they sold. Recognizing the importance of the action, Snyder began to wonder if he could collect socks at his local Starbucks where he worked as a part-time barista. His Starbucks manager at Civica Office Commons in Bellevue agreed and Snyder got to work.
“We had a really crazy goal of collecting 1,000 pairs of socks,” he said. “Several people asked me if that was a realistic goal and, to be frank, I really didn’t know. I just believed that people around me would help.”
And people did. That first year, the sock drive collected 1,250 pairs of socks. This year, Snyder said they made a goal of collecting 2,000 pairs of socks and received double the amount. Snyder said they have had socks come from as far as Florida.
Jeff Nicola, managing loan officer at Bay Equity of Bellevue, is one of the many community members that contributed to the sock drive. This year, Nicola said he contributed 2,160 pairs of socks.
“I think [this] has a direct impact,” Nicola said. “Giving people the specific things they’re looking for and asking for, I think builds a better connection.”
The thousands of socks were dispersed among Congregations For the Homeless (CFH), The Sophia Way and Dignity for Divas.
Snyder feels he answered a calling to serve others, in the way his mother served others. He described her as an extraordinary woman who cared for the homeless population.
“It makes me super happy to know that the spirit of my extraordinary mother is touching people that she never met… this type of work is in honor of her,” Snyder said.
For 15 years, Snyder has given 20 hours of his weeks at Starbucks to devote his time hosting fundraising events. Snyder has been a fundraising auctioneer for 20 years.
Snyder said he believes that the community has the opportunity to impact those who need it the most, and he is eager to solve that as often as possible.