Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Finance & Innovation

88-Year-Old Canadian Man Knits 10,000 Socks For Homeless

Bob Rutherford might be 88 years old, but he refuses to put his feet up.

Along with elderly friends Glynn Sully, 92, George Slater, 85, and 65-year-old "youngster" Barney Sullivan, who live in Saskatoon, Canada, Rutherford has made more than 10,000 socks, to make 5,000 pairs, for the homeless on his homemade sewing machine.

The idea was born out of a bet. Rutherford was challenged by a friend to build a super fast sewing machine. Instead, he built two, both of which can operate at a lightening quick 90 stitches a second. But it took several years before the bet became a boutique.

For the past seven years, Bob Rutherford of Saskatoon, Canada has been knitting socks using a knitting machine that he created himself. "When my wife passed away in 2010, I felt the loss that everybody feels and had nothing to do," said Rutherford. "[My son] said to me, 'If you want to help yourself, help somebody else.'" So he stared knitting every week, making socks that he then donates to shelters all over Canada. Rutherford calls his operation "Socks by Bob," and with the help of his son and a few friends, gets the material he needs by raising money as well as through wool donations. Stated Rutherford, "There's a lot of us, as we grow older, we sit at home and look at the wall with nothing to do. And Socks by Bob has given me that something to do. 3,036 people died, homeless, on, on the Streets of America in 2016. We can do better! Follow @HomelessFriend ⬅ #HomelessFriend Join our online community of people doing something! Hit the link in our bio. ✌🌻 • • • 📷 CR: CBS news #peace #homelessness #spreadpeace #spreadpeaceusa #homelessinamerica #love #peaceandlove #community #kindnessmatters #tentcity #letschangetheworld # #homelessfriend #vegaslocals #hardline #helpthecommunity #outreach #volunteering #heartwarming

A photo posted by Homeless Friend (@homelessfriend) on

According to a report from CBC, the sock operation kicked off after his wife died.

"When my wife passed away in 2010, I felt the loss that everybody feels, and had nothing to do," said Rutherford. "(My son) said to me, 'If you want to help yourself, help somebody else.'"

Now, every pair of socks Bob makes with his friends goes to homeless shelters across Canada.

The operation is called “Socks by Bob.” Hundreds of kilograms of wool is donated by a nearby mill, while Rutherford’s son, Scott, helps raise money for the rest. In 2016 alone, his team knitted over 2,000 pairs of socks.

A wise man, much older than Bob, once said that “one can never have enough socks.” Bob Rutherford, a true Global Citizen, has stepped up to challenge with practical, active compassion that we can all take a moment to learn from. And while we do, he won’t stop sewing.