Sock En Stock, based in Lille, was set up in January by local couple Nathan Bounie and Léa Gonzalez, and takes on odd sock donations - as long as they are clean and in good condition - to create pairs and give them to more deprived communities or homeless people.
The couple pairs up the donations and distributes them to charities such as the Red Cross, homeless service Abej Solidarité, clothing association Sans Maille Ça Caille (which translates in French slang as ‘Without a stitch, it’s freezing’), homeless charity Action Froid and refugee and migrant service Utopia 56.
“People don’t generally give their socks to charities; they throw them away instead,” explained Bounie, an economist, to French newspaper Le Figaro. “So charities find themselves with a lack of socks to give away, even though having warm and comfortable feet is really important if you’re homeless. It’s a question of dignity.”
The charity operates collection points in Lille and its surroundings, including in shops, libraries, cultural centres and sports halls, and has ambitions to take the service country-wide.
Gonzalez, who is a lawyer, added: “Even though we don’t have much free time, we still sort the socks by colour, size, and style, and wash them in our own washing machine.”
The charity has since teamed up with the ecological household brand L’Arbre Vert, which now supplies their washing powder, and the couple hope to work with local launderettes in future too.