Photo C/O Toques from the Heart Website

Casey Rogan and Matthew Milne, two level III commerce students at McMaster University, are collecting knit hockey socks and repurposing them into toques that they’ve been handing out to help vulnerable community members, particulary those facing challenges of homelessness, stay warm this winter. The duo has co-founded Toques from the Heart, a Hamilton-based non-profit organization that provides an opportunity for hockey players to donate hockey socks to give back to their local communities. According to Rogan, he and Milne came up with the idea on July 30, 2019, while both of them were enrolled in summer school. 

“[Milne] had the initial idea when he was younger, and got the idea to ask his mom to change knit hockey socks into toques just as a fun little thing . . .  and his mom actively sews so she did it for him, [so] we’ve had some of the toques for a while,” explains Rogan. 

Upon further discussion, Rogan and Milne decided to start donating toques by directly handing them out in Hamilton and Toronto and selling others to raise money to support hockey programming for children. “As McMaster students in our third year of commerce, [we] really felt that we wanted to get the most of our university experience . . .  [we] wanted to make things happen for us, and not just wait around to get out of university without having any experience,” said Rogan. 

A hat made from a hockey sock. Photo C/O Toques from the Heart website.

Four months later, Toques from the Heart officially launched on Nov. 15, 2019, with the goal of collecting 200 knit hockey socks by the end of the year. In 2019, the organization reported that they were able to achieve more than triple their intended goal, receiving approximately 700 knit hockey socks. Each sock donated can be repurposed into two toques. Rogan explains that he was overwhelmed by the amount of support and feedback the program received from the community. 

“In just under two months, we were able to pass our goal and collect 700 knit hockey socks through donations, [this can make] approximately 1400 toques . . .  and have donated many of them [to the] Downtown Hamilton and Toronto areas,” said Rogan. 

Toques from the Heart also sells repurposed toques to community members for $20 to raise money to support children’s hockey programming.

“We have enough money to cover [the] initial costs and all the funds coming in now are going towards this initiative [of supporting hockey programming]. In the future we would love to sponsor our own Toques from the Heart team and have kids who don’t have these opportunities to be able to play hockey,” explains Rogan. 

Hats made from a hockey sock with patches with the Toques from the Heart logo. Photo C/O Toques from the Heart website.

By the end of 2020, Toques from the Heart has set a goal of raising $5000 and help 500 Canadians stay warm this winter by collecting 2000 knit hockey socks. The organization is also looking for potential sponsors, partnerships and opportunities to expand within the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas.

By the end of 2020, Toques from the Heart has set a goal of raising $5000 and help 500 Canadians stay warm this winter by collecting 2000 knit hockey socks. The organization is also looking for potential sponsors, partnerships and opportunities to expand within the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas.

“We are actively contracting Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and Canadian Tire. We’re [also] trying to get donations in local arenas and bigger arenas and work with these bigger companies to get the word out there and get exposed in the hockey community,” Rogan added. 

According to Rogan, the organization has also given them the opportunity to engage with seniors in the Hamilton community. 

“[On Jan. 26], we went out to two retirement homes, and held a [toque-making] session . . .  folks helped to make some toques and in the coming weeks they will take on the production of the toques. They were all super excited about [us] coming and happy that they had a chance to give back to their own communities,” Rogan explained. 

Rogan adds that Toques from the Heart is always looking for additional volunteers. More information about the organization can be found on their website. 

 

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Photos by Catherine Goce 

Autumn is a cozy time. The blistering heat of summer is receding but the freezing cold of winter has not yet dug in. A month of school has allowed us to settle into our environment and our routines. It’s a time for a little tradition, a little Thanksgiving and a lot of community.

While many of us will settle into familiar spaces, Eternal Collective wants you to settle into a larger and perhaps slightly unfamiliar community of music and art lovers with their October music festival, Eternal Autumn.

Eternal Collective is a collaboration between Emily O’Rourke and Vince Soliveri. It came out of their desire to build community and create more space for intimate live shows in Hamilton. The first of these events is Eternal Autumn.

The festival launched last Friday at The Little Grasshopper Cafe with disk jockeys Kristen Archer, Smooth Transitions and Seema. Each Saturday in October will feature live performances, pop-up shops and interactive elements. Every week will showcase artists of different genres.

“I feel like all of these scenes operate in parallel but they don't really intersect and…if they did intersect people would realize ‘oh I didn't know I liked dream pop’…I feel like this allows people to explore that without having to really do much work,” explained Soliveri.

Autumn is a lazy time. It’s tantalizing to be able to attend a show with one artist that you may know and discover a couple more on the same night. O’Rourke and Soliveri have created shows where none of the bands playing sound quite the same, allowing music lovers to fall in love with something new.

[spacer height="20px"]Another important part of the shows is that they will all take place in alternative venues. Not only will it allow audiences to learn about spaces in the city that they were not aware of, but it will add to the comfortable vibe of Eternal Autumn.

“I think house shows are a lot more comfortable for a lot more people. So making sure that people are comfortable and safe in a more intimate space, I guess, that way community can be built,” said O’Rourke.

Safety is O’Rourke and Soliveri’s key priority at the festival. Soliveri is part of a group called Safer Gigs Hamilton. They do harm reduction outreach at shows and will be set up throughout Eternal Autumn.

However, it takes more than two to make a safe show. They are putting on bands referred by people who are safety advocates. They have established a zero tolerance policy for any bigoted behaviour. The festival as a safer space to enjoy live music and creates a secure and welcoming environment for diverse audiences.  

[spacer height="20px"]Attending the show is also a great way to give back to the community. A portion of the proceeds will go toward local non-profits, SACHA Hamilton, NGen Youth Centre, the AIDS Network, Internal House and Neighbour to Neighbour Centre. These organizations mean a lot to both O’Rourke and Soliveri.

“[T]hey're putting in a lot of work in the city and I think a lot of it [is] unrecognized sometimes. So I think that it comes down to the fact that we're putting on this thing…it might as well go towards something good,” explained O’Rourke.

[spacer height="20px"]O’Rourke is excited to meet the people that come out to the shows. Soliveri hopes that the shows appeal not only to the musical and artistic sides of the audiences but also to their socially conscious sides. In this way, the festival will create spaces as warm as autumn.

The festival begins on October 6 with performances by Jaunt, Ginla and The Crowleys. Contact Eternal Collective for the location and keep up with their Facebook page for announcements of the upcoming shows.


[spacer height="20px"]Eternal Collective Facebook

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