This week's New Yorker understands the power of a pair of warm, dry feet in the winter months -- and she’s trying to give that gift to as many people as she can. NY1’s John Schiumo filed the following report, which was shot, written and edited by Rachel Smith.
When the temperature drops, Saije Bashaw knows it's time to start her rounds.
“If I wake up in the morning,” she says, “and I open up my bathroom window and that small breeze makes me cold enough even though I'm indoors, I know it's time to get out."
Armed with a backpack full of socks, she hits the streets every winter with a simple mission: hand out new, quality socks to those without a home. It's something she's been doing for more than a decade -- ever since getting the idea one rainy Thanksgiving.
Bashaw recalls, "I got home, my feet were soaked, I put on a fresh new pair of socks, and in that moment I thought – oh, there's lots of people out there that probably have cold feet. So I went out and bought a bunch of socks and I got rid of them within an hour.”
Now, nearly every day, she brings the socks anywhere she thinks they're needed -- some days to Penn Station, others to Union Square. It's a gift greatly appreciated by those she helps.
"I love her ‘cause she gave me socks,” says one lucky recipient. “‘Cause socks is sometimes better than a hug."
Diego, another recipient of Bashaw’s generosity, says,
"You know, I suffer from cold feet ‘cause I have no roof over my head and socks are a necessity. That and feet and hand warmers -- those come in handy too -- but always warm socks."
Bashaw almost always goes out solo, but she gets a lot of support from friends who donate money -- or socks -- to the cause.
Friend and donor Olivia Merchant says, "I feel such a compassion for people that are displaced and living on the streets -- not only all over the United States but especially in New York because it's such a gritty place and it's extremely cold. And I know that it's really important for people to feel as much warmth as possible."
Bashaw has a message for fellow New Yorkers: “If you can spare five dollars, go to your local drug store or sporting goods store. Find a pair of socks or two that are on sale; put them in your purse, backpack or briefcase. And you will see someone who needs a pair of socks."
And so, for giving warmth to those who need it -- from head to toe -- Saije Bashaw is our New Yorker of the Week.
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