8th Grade Religion class explores Social Justice through Sock Collection

Mrs. Slifka’s 8th grade students were inspired to put their faith into action after watching the 2017 film, Same Kind of Different As Me, a film about a couple’s unlikely friendship with a man they meet at a local homeless shelter. In order to best channel her students’ charitable efforts, Mrs. Slifka contacted a friend, Karen O’Brien, COO of CARITAS.

Karen was thrilled to hear about our student’s willingness to contribute and shared her own good news. As of late October, CARITAS was just weeks away from opening a 150,000 square foot space called the CARITAS Center. Once the new CARITAS center opens, it will include the following elements:

  • The William M. Walker Healing Place for Women – 160-bed peer-based recovery program.
  • CARITAS Works – Expanded state-of-the-art classroom space.
  • Furniture Bank – Warehouse space for Furniture Bank clients and volunteers.
  • 47 Sober-Living Apartments – For program graduates and qualifying community members.
  • CARITAS Administrative Offices – All located efficiently under one roof.
  • Leased Office Space – For a community health care provider.

What does homelessness look like in Richmond?

According to a 2019 Racial Equity Analysis of the The Greater Richmond Continuum of Care (GRCoC), 76% of people experiencing homelessness are people of color. This same study noted that the rate of first-time homelessness among people living below the poverty line is highest for African Americans, whose rates of homelessness are over 50% higher than that for Whites.

The percentage of exits to permanent destinations from emergency shelter,
transitional housing, and Safe Havens varies by race. Most notably, African Americans have higher rates of exiting to permanent destinations than do Whites or people of unknown or other races. They also have the lowest rates of exit to homelessness.

Connecting the dots, with socks.

One take-away from this data is that CARITAS is expanding its capacity to provide a Safe Haven environment for people in Richmond who are in need of support. And one small way to support CARITAS clients is to provide them with new pairs of warm socks as the winter season approaches. Along with warm coats, hats, gloves and scarves, CARITAS works with local churches, schools and businesses to ensure they have an ample stock of warm weather clothing–including socks!– to provide for its clients in need.

Dry, clean pairs of socks can also be an important means of assisting people experiencing homelessness who struggle to manage Diabetes, a disease that can cause painful foot ulcers that are prone to infection.

How can you help? Put some Socks in the Box!

From Monday, November 16 – Friday, November 20, donate a new pair of men or women’s packaged socks in a plastic storage bag (this makes them easy to store and distribute). Simply have your child place their “Socks in the Box” that 8th graders will provide to each homeroom. Classrooms collecting the most pairs of socks for CARITAS will be awarded a free TAG Day.

In order to generate excitement and awareness, all students will be permitted to wear “crazy socks” on Thursday, November 12. Winning homerooms will be announced before Thanksgiving break.

Mrs. Slifka’s 8th Graders have spent several weeks creating posters, videos, flyers and other promotional materials to help inform and inspire school-wide action. We’ll be sharing their efforts and impact on social media during the month of November so be sure to follow us (@saintmarysrva) on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

For more information on this project, contact Jeanne Slifka.