• James Armstrong

Westwood High School French students take up Toe2Toe challenge


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

‘French as a Second Language’ students from Hudson’s Westwood High School Senior Campus launch sock collection campaign for Montreal homeless people.

A group of Grade 11 students at Hudson’s Westwood High School Senior Campus have taken up the challenge to collect socks for Montreal’s homeless people. Chris Costello, the motivating force behind the nonprofit organization Toe2Toe, presented the challenge to a class of ‘French as a Second Language’ students on Wednesday, April 24.

Toe2Toe specializes in either collecting new socks for homeless people or raising funds to purchase them. The socks are distributed through Accueil Bonneau to people living on the streets of Montreal.

“They provide seamless distribution to the homeless people of Montreal who need the socks the most,” said Costello.

“We want to bring the project to the French side of things,” said teacher Riccardo Charlot adding there are two classes taking part totaling about 100 students who will be involved in the project. The students participating in the sock drive were asked to encourage other students to participate in the project in a friendly competitive way to see who could raise the most socks.

Discovering and responding to a need

“Toe2Toe started because of my involvement in medicine,” Costello told the students. “Whenever a homeless person showed up there were always foot problems,” he said and he wanted to find out why this was happening. He found his answer when he was hospitalized and shared a room with a homeless person.

“Matt was 18 years of age, was homeless and had no teeth,” said Costello.

He told the students he learned a huge lesson from the young man when Matt told him what he needed most in terms of articles of clothing were clean socks. Matt was wearing the same pair of socks for six months, Costello reported. Replacing dirty socks with clean on a regular basis helps prevent fungal and bacterial infections. If left unattended and untreated, the infections can spread to the rest of the body causing organ damage. In some cases, toes or feet have to be amputated.

PHOTO COURTESY SHUTTERSTOCK

Colour of socks important

“We want white socks,” said Costello. The students were surprised at the information but understood when Costello told them white socks reveal a lot about the condition of the feet. If the white socks display red marking it indicates bleeding and yellow or green means infection is present.

“The moment there is a cut there is access for bacteria to the bloodstream,” Costello pointed out.

The students were definitely up for the challenge of collecting socks. For many of them, the need for socks came as a revelation.

“There are food and clothing drives for homeless people, but this is something different,” said a student. Costello invited them to create a video in French based on their sock drive for the Toe2Toe website.

The deadline for the sock drive is Friday, May 10 according to Charlot. An additional academic grade in their French class is the prize for collecting the most socks.

To date, Toe2Toe has collected 40,000 pairs of socks through partnering with schools, universities, sports teams, community organizations and businesses. For further information about the organization, visit toe2toe.org.

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