Socks at the theater isn’t the worst idea

Thanksgiving lurks, which means a slew of “do-gooder” campaigns about to be unleashed.

I’ll be the first to admit, most of these bother me. Especially the sentiment of giving a shit about others because it’s the holidays. Why aren’t there stories about helping the homeless in May and yet so many spill out about Good Samaritans between Thanksgiving and Christmas?

These little campaigns make us feel a bit better at a time of heightened awareness of our mostly self-centered lives that occurs during the holidays. We mitigate the rising internal tension by tossing some canned goods in a collection barrel or texting $10 to a cause of the day.

Cynical, I know.

Every little bit helps, I know.

So just a few minutes ago I got an email about a “holiday campaign” called “Socks in the City.”

Oh, please.

The email came from SHN in San Francisco about its upcoming presentation of the Broadway musical IF/Then.

I felt the derision well up inside me. I wanted to mock whatever it was before I knew what it was (which shows how ugly my thoughts can be left unchecked).

Two things caught me in my own self-important righteous BS. First, the campaign had been going on for a while and was wrapping up by Thanksgiving, so it was poorly named as a holiday campaign. Second, it is simply an excellent idea. Often the best ideas are the simple ones. This is that.

Check it out:

Thanks to YOUR generosity, we’ve collected over 1,800 pairs of socks for St. Anthony Foundation’s “Socks in the City” campaign benefiting the homeless men and women living in shelters and on the streets with no access to clean socks and shoes. Socks are still the number one most requested clothing item at St. Anthony’s and with the holidays coming up, SHN wants to do something extra special.

How can you help? IF you bring a pair of socks to your performance of IF/THEN (barrels will be set up in the SHN Orpheum Theatre lobby), THEN SHN will match your donation (through Thanksgiving Day).

I’m out on the streets from time to time talking to homeless folks and trying to do what I can, whether it be the San Francisco Night Ministry (a blessed way the presence of God has been on the streets of SF for 50 years now) or my own little lunch dates. Little of what I have done amounts to much, but giving people socks is a HIT every single time. Folks need socks. I try to take some with me anytime I’m out. And this little program has raised 1,800 and counting pairs of socks.

That humbles me.


Homeless people eating a can of donated food don’t really care about the motivation of those who gave it. They’re just glad to have food.  And I know they love getting socks. Never once have they said, “no thanks, I don’t want to be a token act of kindness for do-gooders.” Of course not. I’m an idiot.

Do-gooders, knock yourself out. Tis the season. Why not?

In the meantime, I’ll check myself and my shitty, self-righteous attitude. Who am I to judge the action of others? I stand in judgement on myself.


Even though really, it still bugs me. I can’t help it. It bugs me but still do it. Toss the canned food in the barrel. Text a donation. Bring socks to the theater. Go for it. God bless.

In penance, I brought socks to If/Then, so I’d feel a bit better about myself, too.

As Bill Murray said in Stripes, “Talk about mass potential for growth, I am the acorn that becomes the oak.”

Clearly, I still have a lot of growing to do.


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