Your City Sports has donated over 100,000 pairs of socks to homeless shelters
LYNDEN — Begun in 2014, local custom apparel company Your City Sports designs socks, beanies and other items for sports teams, school clubs, businesses and other organizations looking for creative marketing tools.
However, the mission for company owner Carolyn Colwell spans far beyond any financial gains her small business creates.
Colwell started Your City Sports after moving to Lynden from Surrey, B.C., in 2012. She had been working as a school counselor in Surrey and planned on returning to that role after taking a leave of absence. Once she started volunteering in the area at various homeless shelters, though, Colwell became inspired to give back to the homeless community.
At a Project Homeless Connection event in Bellingham, Colwell discovered that one of the most requested items for homeless shelters is socks, something she was shocked to learn. With her three boys active in basketball, a sport known for its brightly-colored socks, Colwell wondered if there was a way to create a business where for every item sold the company would give a pair of socks to a homeless shelter.
Not long after, Your City Sports was born. Colwell, with the help of her three children and husband, started making and selling skyline socks at basketball tournaments in Canada. She found her product becoming more and more popular, and many people were asking if they could put their brand’s logo onto custom-made socks, scarfs and beanies.
Working with most high schools in Whatcom County — including Lynden, Lynden Christian, Nooksack Valley and Meridian — and wholesale companies like Cloud 9 Sports, Your City Sports has grown over the past four years. All the while, Colwell has been able to stay true to the original mission of the company.
On June 12, Your City Sports’ Buy One-Give One program reached an impressive milestone with an in-person sock donation by Colwell and student-athlete and homeless advocate Will Clark of Notre Dame Secondary in Vancouver, B.C. Delivering socks to Directions Youth Services in Vancouver, the program has now donated over 100,000 pairs of socks to homeless shelters.
“It meant a lot to me,” Colwell said of the milestone donation. “We know the impact that (the donations) have had on people who go to these shelters. Homelessness is on the increase and it’s kind of a big topic right now. A pair of socks goes a long way for these people, just to bring some hope and cheer to their lives when they don’t have anything else.”
Colwell said she orders the donated socks from a company in the Philippines. Running Your City Sports out of her home, she orders some 35,000 pairs every year, storing them in her garage.
“There are so many overruns that (the company) doesn’t know what to do with them,” Colwell said. “There’s nothing wrong with the socks, so we buy them and give them to the homeless. The company loves that we do that. We’re just a small customer, but they treat us like a big customer because they like what we’re doing.”
When customers place an order with Your City Sports, the donations go right back to the community in which the customer lives. Locally, the company has donated to Northwest Youth Services, New Way Ministries and Hope Lutheran Church, one of many county churches that host homeless families.
Despite working with many different clients, Your City Sports is run entirely by Colwell with the help of her family. The only other staff member is a social media and marketing coordinator, although Colwell says she has had some volunteers in the past.
“We know the impact that (the donations) have had on people who go to these shelters. Homelessness is on the increase and it’s kind of a big topic right now. A pair of socks goes a long way for these people, just to bring some hope and cheer to their lives"
-Carolyn Colwell, Your City Sports
With the company growing, the products becoming more and more popular and a customer base that is seemingly excited about the opportunity to give back, Colwell just hopes to keep making as big of an impact as she can.
“It’s been growing, which is really neat to see,” Colwell said Your City Sports. “I hope we can continue to grow and help change communities.”
To learn more about Your City Sports, visit http://yourcitysports.com/.