Donate at the library this Socktober

Socks are consistently among the most requested items at homeless shelters. All October, we’re collecting new pairs at all library locations to benefit the clients of Housing Forward and other organizations.

It’s our third year participating in Socktober. In 2017, thanks to your generosity, we collected 446 pairs of socks, as well as 50 pairs of underwear, 20 bags and backpacks, 10 pairs of shoes, and a heavy box full of travel-sized toiletries.

“I’m so proud of our community and how much love was shown,” said Elementary School Services Librarian Genevieve Grove. “It was really great to hear caregivers talking to kids about how we can help take care of each other, and to hear kids reminding their grown-ups that they needed to put more socks on the shopping list.”


Requested items

Grove said that all socks are welcomed, but sturdy adult socks (like the white athletic kind or, even better, wool) are the most needed. “They will be keeping feet warm and dry in the harshest conditions, so think of what you’d want on your feet,” she said.

If you’re interested in doing even more, consider donating:

  • Backpacks and bags
  • Travel-size toiletries
  • NEW underwear (for kids and adults)
  • Boots and shoes

Drop off your donations at any library location during open hours, October 1 through 31.

Find more ways to help »

Get the kids involved

On Sunday, October 21, 1-3:30 pm, bring the whole family to the Main Library Storytime Room, where we’ll have a storytime with the Oak Park Women’s Guild, a visit by a Housing Forward representative, and hands-on projects to distribute supplies to Housing Forward clients. Learn more about the event »

‘A welcoming place’: How one Housing Forward outreach manager collaborates with the library

For the past two years, Ebony Martin, an Outreach Case Manager with Housing Forward, has been visiting the Main Library to work with clients.

On Fridays this summer, while Housing Forward’s PADS Shelter in Maywood was closed for the season (it reopened September 17), she handed out free lunches to people outside the Main Library. She also worked to make sure people had what they needed to make it through the weekend—whether a bus pass, a restaurant gift card, or a T-shirt.

Martin also regularly collaborates with the library’s Director of Social Services and Safety, Robert Simmons. Together, they have helped at least 25 people find housing.

Housing Forward

“The library is a welcoming place,” Martin said, and shared more thoughts with us:

What are some misconceptions about people who are homeless? “The biggest misconception is that all homeless people panhandle,” Martin said.

What does it take to get someone housing? “An open mind and acknowledgement of what the client’s barriers are and how willing they are to work on them. Every individual is different and there is no magic formula.”

How can people get involved or make a difference? Be responsive to requests for help. “People can volunteer essentially anywhere at Housing Forward and donate food, clothes, time, and money,” Martin said.

Find shelter schedules and eligibility criteria from Housing Forward »

More about the library’s Social Services and Safety Team, plus community resources »