Burlington Township High School seniors Meadow Monticello and Lorraina Gibson were looking for a way to help Burlington County’s homeless when they came up with the idea of collecting an item that many residents take for granted.
The clothing item may seem trivial to some, but pairs were in low supply at Burlington County’s Housing Hub, which serves as a one-stop location for homeless and housing insecure residents to go for available services.
So, when the two high school students delivered two large loads of new socks collected from Burlington Township students and families, it filled a huge need at the Housing Hub.
“Socks are an item that few people think about but that are incredibly important and in short supply,” said Burlington County Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson. “The Burlington Township High School students who collected these socks have demonstrated both empathy and foresight. On behalf of our entire Board, we want to thank and recognize them for performing this incredible service.”
The sock drive was organized by the Burlington Township’s Senior Class, Student Government and International Thespian Society in an event dubbed “Socvember.” The students promoted the drive online and during morning announcements and attendees at the school’s fall play were also encouraged to bring new socks to donate.
More than 60 pairs were collected, as well as several winter hats, gloves and mittens.
Monticello and Lorraina delivered the items to the Housing Hub on Dec. 10, where they also met with Burlington County Human Services Director Shirla Simpson and Malikah Morris, the County’s director of Community Outreach and Special Projects and the head of the Housing Hub.
Both Simpson and Morris said the socks were “desperately needed” and would get distributed through the Hub and the County’s Code Blue Weather Emergency program.
A Code Blue declaration is made when frigid weather conditions pose a threat of serious harm or death to individuals or families without shelter. During the declaration, the County provides for short-term sheltering for individuals and families in clean, safe locations.
Last winter Code Blues were declared 86 times and more than 4,400 individuals were sheltered.
The Housing Hub assists with Code Blue but is also a resource for homeless residents and families throughout the year. Located in the County Human Services Building in Westampton, the Housing Hub provides a single location for residents experiencing housing issues to go to for information and services.
Since opening in December 2019, the Housing Hub has assisted more than 3,000 individuals obtain services such as emergency sheltering, utility assistance, food assistance, security deposit help, affordable housing referrals, landlord advocacy and counseling.
“We’ve made assisting residents facing housing problems a major priority, and the Housing Hub has become a huge resource in that fight,” said Hopson, who is the Commissioner’s liaison to Human Services. “In just two years, the Housing Hub has helped connect thousands of our residents with assistance needed so they can remain in their homes or find improved, stable housing. That’s an incredible record and we will continue to look for ways to connect those in need with services.”
Meadow said her classmates hope the Socvember drive becomes an annual tradition at the school.
“We didn’t realize how big a need there was when we started,” she said.