A non-profit organization is collecting donations for socks to hand out to those experiencing homelessness this winter, with a positive message.

Ray Kuik is a self-proclaimed idealist. He works in Winnipeg and is the Director of a branding and marketing communications company called Q-Power Communications. 

He has also partnered with an organization called Pay It Backward which was started by Tony March down in Florida.

The relationship started when Kuik, through Q-Power, was working with Sean Covey, the author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. With this association, Pay It Backward reached out to Kuik to help with March's book. 

"We launched his book in March of 2020," says Kuik. The book is called Paying it Backward: How a Childhood of Poverty and Abuse Fueled a Life of Gratitude and Philanthropy and it is March's personal story. 

Through this process of marketing his book, Kuik and March became friends and decided to collaborate and inspire people to give back in the US and Canada. 

Kuik is the head of Pay it Backward here in Canada, with initiatives in Manitoba, Alberta, and British Columbia.

The organization's mission is "To inspire and encourage one another to give ambitiously of our time, talents and treasures so that the lives of the poor, the abused and the vulnerable may be touched in meaningful and lasting ways," according to their website. 

"We've grown it into something bigger than the foundation he started in his own name," says Kuik.

To begin, Kuik started a chain of golf tournaments in 2019, two in Winnipeg and one in Vancouver, and together the events raised almost $100,000. 

"We're also very active in something we call Street Socks for the Homeless, a program we developed a year ago. Some church communities have gotten on board here in Winnipeg," says Kuik.

This December the initiative has garnered roughly 2,000 pairs of socks donated. 

The Street Strong Socks can be purchased in packs of six and will go to Siloam Mission in Winnipeg or Samaritan House Ministries in Brandon.

The socks are made with merino wool and have a six different inspirational sayings on them. 

"We're baby-stepping along, trying to make a difference in communities through like-minded connections of ours," says Kuik.

In marketing and philanthropy, Kuik's mission is the same.

"Tony had a little tag line on his website at the time and it was 'Inspiring individuals to give back to their communities'. I loved it so much because, at the base root of it, we feel the most important thing that can actually bring our countries together in a responsible way is when average individuals to do the street work."

Kuik says the government has its place, but to make this sort of difference, it takes people caring for their communities. 

"We're trying to bring through a spirit of genuine empathy, love, and respect for all, no matter what ethnicity, race, or social backdrop. We believe that's the way and by building something together and taking care of one another, we'll get to a better state as a culture and society."