When dry socks and warm feet make all the difference

By P.A. Sévigny

Thanks to the efforts of Montreal chef David Ferguson and some of his friends, dry socks and warm feet are presently making a big difference for at least a couple of thousand homeless people in the city. “I don’t quite get it myself,” he said, “…but everybody can identify with what it must be like to have cold wet feet in this weather and that’s when they decided to do something about it.”

With little more than a bit of news coverage and a lot of action on the city’s social media, six Montreal restaurants—including Ferguson’s uber-hip GUS located on the Plateau’s Beaubien Street strip—combined their efforts to gather up socks for the homeless after Ferguson saw someone walking in the slush along Park Avenue in an old pair of sneakers. For a single week, Ferguson and his friends offered a tall glass of sparkling wine to anyone who showed up in their restaurants bearing socks for the homeless.

“It’s amazing,” said Ferguson who described his restaurant as ‘a big meat, lots of fun’ kind of place. “People are still coming in with boxes full of new socks. One of my clients sent us some from the States and others went out and actually knitted some new socks for us. According to Najib Salah, a spokesman for the city’s well-known Dans la Rue organization, at least 500 homeless teens now have new socks to keep their feet warm as they make their way through the city. “As of the last count,” said Salah, “…we received more than a thousand pairs of socks from these people and we’re all very grateful for their efforts.”

Aside from Ferguson’s GUS, the chef’s friends include the owners of Pastaga Restaurant and Vins Natures, Pizzeria Gema, Boucherie Lawrence, Santa Barbara and Gilford Street’s well-known Micro-Resto La Famille who all pitched in to help find (at last count) some 4,562 new pairs of socks for the homeless. According to Salah, Montreal’s Dans la Rue shared the socks with the city’s Old Brewery Mission and the Plateau’s own Sun Youth Organization.

“It’s a bit of a surprise,” said Ferguson, “…but I know that we touched a nerve and we all had a lot of fun putting this together.”

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