Community & Current Events

Me to We Winner: Sarah Lewis

Photography by John Hryniuk Image by: Photography by John Hryniuk Author: Canadian Living

Community & Current Events

Me to We Winner: Sarah Lewis

I have to admit, the first time I read about Sarah Lewis (in the nomination application for the award), I got choked up and teary eyed. I'm normally a tough guy with a heart of stone. But she just sounds (as I told her mother on the phone, parent to parent) so damn cute. And (as I also told her mother) I don't mean to patronize – far from it. I use the word in the profoundest possible sense, the way my wife uses it, to mean "soulful, decent, trying hard." Good, basically.

It started with a pair of socks
For Sarah, the "inciting incident" came when she was seven (the Windsor, Ont., student is now 12), tagging along with her older brother, who was delivering sleeping bags to a homeless shelter. She asked a man named Joe if there was anything else he needed, and he said, simply, "socks."

So Sarah snapped into action. She started a campaign at school called Socks Warm Your Heart and collected socks in a basket. She asked for socks in lieu of presents at Christmas. She asked for socks in lieu of presents for her birthday. She started hitting up friends and neighbours for – I hope you're not expecting any surprises here – socks.
Her tireless fundraising

She also held garage sales, sold lemonade, collected bottles, and saved tooth fairy and Canadian Tire money to raise funds for the shelter. So far she has collected thousands of socks and thousands of dollars, as well as hats, mitts, blankets and backpacks. "[Homeless people] walk around a lot. And it's important that they keep their heads and hands and feet warm," she says.

She delivers the goods in person and says the reaction is very gratifying. "One woman put on a pair of socks and said, ‘Oh, I'm in heaven,'" she says. Another man said the socks were a big boost to his self-esteem, because fresh socks meant he "wouldn't smell and people wouldn't stare."

A learning experience
These drop-offs were educational for her too, she says. "You can't judge a book by its cover. These people are nice, kind – just like us. They just need a little extra help."

As long as Sarah is around, you can bet they're going to get it too. Help, hats, mitts, cash and (if you don't know what's coming, here's a hint: they go on your feet) socks.

This story was originally titled "Me to We Award Winners" in the October 2013 issue.

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Community & Current Events

Me to We Winner: Sarah Lewis