Socks and Blankets for Peace

Kwabi Amoah-Forson of the Peace Bus sets his sights on spreading warmth after news of Tacoma's tent ban.

One after another, Kwabi Amoah-Forson held up the socks he’s been collecting in the break room of Comprehensive Life Resources, where he works as a case manager. The wool pair looks warm and cozy, especially on a crisp fall day such as today.

“These were only $1 at the dollar store,” he explained. He keeps his costs low, so as to stock up on as many essential pieces of winter gear as possible. Those socks, along with countless other pairs and a multitude of blankets, will be donated to Tacoma’s homeless population this winter.

You may recognize Amoah-Forson from his seemingly infinite smile or the powder blue shirt he often wears which reads, “The Peace Bus.” If you don’t recognize him, you most certainly would recognize the 1988 Mitsubishi van sporting the same text and color.

Photo by Melissa McCarthy

The last time we caught up with Amoah-Forson, he was on his way to spread the message of peace from Tacoma to the U.S.-Mexico border aboard his Peace Bus. But his humanitarian efforts didn’t end there. No, Amoah-Forson has been spurred into altruistic action once again.

A recent Tacoma City Council ruling determined that tents would be banned from city parks beginning on Dec. 1. Amoah-Forson, who works with people suffering from homelessness every day as part of his case load, knew this decision would displace and potentially cause harm to a number of individuals in the homeless community, given the shortage of shelter, lack of resources, and frigid seasonal temperatures. 

His first thought upon hearing this decision; “What can I do to help?”

Amoah-Forson made up his mind to organize a sock and blanket drive. He would collect as many materials as possible before Dec. 1, when the ban goes into effect, and distribute them to local resource centers for those affected by the tent ban.

Throughout the month of December, Amoah-Forson will distribute socks, blankets, and cheer. In fact, he and his colleagues intend to hang up a Christmas tree inside the Peace Bus and sport Santa hats when they hand out the collected goods.

“That’s what the holiday season is all about: Giving to those who are less fortunate,” Amoah-Forson said.

His primary goal with the drive is to inspire others in the community to consider ways they can make a difference. Because, from his experience, there are not nearly enough government-issued resources to address homelessness in the region. Therefore, we need to step up at the individual and community level.

“If you live in Tacoma, you see the homelessness. If you see it, you’re obligated to do something,” Amoah-Forson said. 

According to Amoah-Forson, that starts with simple acts that humanize people who can be regarded as less than. That first step can take many forms, but this season, it starts with socks. 

Those interested in participating can make physical donations of new socks or new blankets to Comprehensive Life Resources at 1305 Tacoma Ave. S., Scorpio Rising vintage shop at 2709 6th Ave., or BD Local media company at 1326 Tacoma Ave. Suite 101. Amoah-Forson also has set up a GoFundMe page for people to give monetary donations.

He said that he knows that providing winter gear isn’t necessarily a solution to homelessness, but that this drive serves as an example of what we all can do to benefit our society. And, at the very least, “Maybe everyone can have socks this Christmas.”

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