tom costello
Photo: Ann Marie Casey
While volunteering at a Philadelphia soup kitchen in 2007, Tom Costello Jr. learned that many of the foot-related afflictions from which homeless people suffer—swelling, blisters, skin infections, even frostbite—can be avoided by wearing new, dry socks. But because socks generally aren't included in charitable clothing donations, most people in need go without them. "I knew I had to be the sock guy," he says.

So Costello founded The Joy of Sox, which distributes donated socks to shelters across the country. He gets the word out through social media, local sock drives, and a mascot, Joy the Sock Puppet, who accompanies Costello on speaking trips. He even persuaded the Pennsylvania State Senate to recognize February 14 as National Socks for the Homeless Day. It's a small victory for the more than 14,000 homeless in Pennsylvania, but Costello isn't daunted. "I once ran a marathon," he says, "and someone asked me how I did it. I said, 'One block at a time.' You do it little by little."

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