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5 Favorites with Joy of Sox’s Tom Costello, Jr.

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Tom Costello Jr. had an epiphany while volunteering at a Germantown shelter alongside his wife. Overcoming an initial phobia of the homeless, the Wayne resident founded the Joy of Sox, a nonprofit organization that has distributed 190,000 pairs of socks throughout the country since 2010. 

1. Chanticleer.

“We love to take my three grandchildren there.”

2. Same Kind of Different As Me.

“It’s about a guy, not dissimilar from me, who met some homeless people, and it changed his life.”

3. Cooking.

“I love it. A favorite is salmon, broccoli and roasted potatoes, with beet salad and a glass of chardonnay.”

Tom Costello
Chanticleer Same Kind of Different As Me

From Left: Chanticleer, Same Kind of Different As Me

4. Davis Center for Athletics and Fitness at Villanova University.

“I work out on the elliptical a few times a week.” 

5. Photography.

“When we had our family over this summer, I took about 500 shots of everybody. It turned into our Christmas card.” 

MLT: What is the goal of Joy of Sox?

TC: Our vision is to be able to provide new socks to every homeless person in the United States a couple of times a year.

MLT: What made you decide to found this organization?

TC: My wife was volunteering at a homeless shelter and I used to be chronically homeless-phobic. I went down there a couple years ago, and it scared the hell out of me. [My wife] Nancy mentioned she’d been working with a podiatrist who said the homeless never get donations of socks and they have all sorts of problems with their feet. On the way home, I said I had to do something. I called around and got some donations. A sock manufacturer sent us a bunch of old seconds. I figured that something as simple or basic as a pair of socks can go [a long way] for a person who is in need.

MLT: How does the process work?

TC: We collect socks from sock drives or use money from our donations to purchase socks and then we distribute them to shelters and facilities for the homeless. [After a drive] we have volunteers come over and we separate them into women’s, men’s and children’s.

MLT: What’s the usual reaction when you give somebody a pair of socks?

TC: We’ll have volunteers deliver a case of socks to a shelter manager and he or she hands them out. But we have been handing them out and people are like, ‘Oh my god I never get socks.’ Or, ‘Do you have a pair of dress socks? I was able to get a job interview, I was able to get a pair of pants or a jacket, but funny socks. Can you help me out?’ and we say sure. A lady came up to me that asked if I had any kids’ socks. It was an unusual request and I asked why. ‘My daughter goes to school and the girls tease her incessantly about the same pair of socks everyday.’ I gave her handfuls of socks for her daughter.

MLT: What’s the most rewarding part of your work?

TC: When you hand somebody a pair of socks and they smile and they typically say, ‘I haven’t had a new pair of socks in months or years.’

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