“I’d give them the shirt off my back!” How many times have you heard that phrase or even used it yourself? Maybe it’s time to rephrase that idiom to “I’d give them the socks off my feet.” That’s exactly what Hannah Turner endeavored to do in 2004.
According to the Hannah’s Socks (HS) website (hannahssocks.org/), “What began as the simple, intuitive wish of a 4-year old girl to give a homeless man her socks has blossomed into a successful, nationally recognized program that has helped hundreds of thousands of people in need and raised the awareness of how a simple act can change the face of poverty and homelessness in our region.”
Robin Laird, who lives in Perrysburg, has been executive director of Hannah’s Socks since 2014. “Hannah was one of eight adopted children of Doris and Vic Turner and she and her family regularly participated in volunteer work, giving back to the community. They were at the Cherry Street Mission on Thanksgiving Day (in 2004) and she (Hannah) saw a man with no socks and wanted to give him her socks,” Laird said.
The story goes that Hannah’s mom said the socks wouldn’t fit, but promised Hannah they would return the next day with 100 pairs of socks. The Turner family soon discovered socks were the most needed item in homeless shelters.
Michael Brough of Perrysburg, who has been president of the HS Board of Directors for three years, said though the Turners moved to North Carolina several years ago and Hannah is now 17 years old, the HS mission statement of “providing dignity, one pair of socks at a time” is as relevant now as when Hannah and her family founded the program in 2004.
HS is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit with an “unmanned office, basically storage bins, where all the socks are stored.” said Laird. The only paid staffer works part-time for a minimum wage.
HS donates regularly “to over 50 partners” said Brough. Partners are other nonprofits such as Bethany House, The Boys & Girls Clubs of Toledo and the Aurora Project. Toledo Public Schools and schools in Lima and Fremont are also partners. HS also has partners in Southeast Michigan and the Detroit metropolitan area.
Since HS’ founding, “well over a million…probably a million and a half socks have been collected. HS collects between two and three thousand (socks) a month, pushing out about 50,000 a year,” Laird said.
Brough coordinates the (HS) board with the Friends of Hannah’s, people and companies that help out by having sock drives, being at farmers’ markets to help advertise or doing a “buy-a-pair-we-donate-a-pair” project.
HS also has a team of volunteers who help when the program receives large donations of socks. Laird said, “We have four different groups of adults with disabilities that come in, from Sunshine, Bittersweet, Lott and adults from Person Centered Services, who help us sort.”
HS does not receive federal or state funding but instead counts on donations throughout the year and fundraisers. HS major 2018 fundraiser, “Sole Train,” will be held on March 9 at Parkway Place.
To donate new socks or to make a tax deductible donation to Hannah’s Socks, visit hannahssocks.org/donate/ or call