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Opinion: Operation Winter Socks

As I watched him remove his old ratty boots, I could see they were soaking wet, his socks were soaked as well and he had sores on his feet

By Neal McNamara, North Bay.


Operation Winter Socks is a community donation effort running until Jan 31st with support from the North Bay Police and Fire services and 22 Wg CFB North Bay to collect gently used (or new) winter boots, winter socks, and other items for the homeless and those in need. It is my hope that the kindness and generosity of our local rescue heroes on this project will inspire the North Bay community at large to get involved and donate what used items they can (see donation list & drop off instructions, below)


On Dec 30, I had a chance encounter with a local homeless man in downtown North Bay. I could see his boots were insufficient for the weather and offered to drop off a pair of winter boots for him the next day at Partners Billiards and Bowling. That is where ‘Boots on the Ground’, a local Facebook volunteer group that does outreach work with the homeless is based out of. Over 40 people gather once a month to put 250 care packages together and then their outreach team of 15 or so members delivers them throughout the community.

So the next day I met up with my new friend at the Bowling Alley. As I watched him remove his old ratty boots, I could see they were soaking wet, his socks were soaked as well and he had sores on his feet. One thing I learned in the army is that you need to take care of your feet and keep them dry. Ok, I’m not sure if I got that from my time in the army or from Lt Dan on Forrest Gump, but either way, it’s true and especially in winter!

After speaking with Boots on the Ground, The Gathering Place, and Crisis Centre, a “desperate” need was identified in our community for gently used (or new) winter boots and winter socks for the homeless and most vulnerable, as well as a “lesser” need for other winter gear, food & toiletries.

I needed to find some help and with my military background, I thought who better to call then my friends up at 22 Wg CFB North Bay and our local rescue heroes over at the North Bay police and fire departments…. And they did not disappoint! Every call I made, it was the same answer, “Yes Neal, what do you need?”, and “how can we help!”. Well, the military and emergency services are doing their part….. and now we need your help!

DONATION ITEMS NEEDED (gently used or new)

1. Boots on the Ground - Partners Billiards & Bowling - 361 Main St E

*WINTER BOOTS* or any men’s and women’s boots, but there is more of a need for men’s sizes


-Hooded sweaters (large size and up)

-old backpacks or duffel bags

-cases of water

-granola bars/protein bars/snacks

2. North Bay Crisis Centre - 1675 Cassells




-Deodorant (men’s and women’s)

-Towels and washcloths (used/clean)

3. The Gathering Place - 1181 Cassells St

-Liquid Broth

-Hot chocolate


-Men’s gloves/mitts/toque

-Feminine Hygiene products

-Plastic bags

-Margarine container (or any container large enough for food to take home)

-Pancake Mix





-Peanut butter

-Cooking Oil

-Bread products


Donations from the public can be dropped off during daytime hours 7 days a week from now up until Feb 3, 2020.

Donations for Boots on the Ground can be delivered to Partners Billiards and Bowling Alley (361 Main St E). Other donated items can be dropped off to The Gathering Place (1181 Cassells St) or the North Bay Crisis Centre (1675 Cassells St) as applicable. Note – The Gathering Place is closed on Sundays.

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Neal McNamara

About the Author: Neal McNamara

Neal McNamara is an entrepreneur, investor, and former Military Police studying business at Nipissing University
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