CLEVELAND — Saturday, a group of Cleveland photographers are trading their services for socks. They’re hosting “The Sock Exchange” event to support the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and those who benefit from their initiatives.

The event is from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Fairhill Partners, a local community nonprofit located at 12200 Fairhill Road.

“So we’re looking for donations of six pack, 10 to 12 pack, and 24 packs of socks and cash donations of $15, $25, and $50 in exchange for these photo sessions. The $50 donations will get you a free mini session,” Ernest Hatten, a local photographer who organized the event, said.

Hatten came to NEOCH with the idea for the sock exchange after seeing a post on Instagram about their need for socks. Then, he reached out to other photographers and got them to donate their time to the cause.

Anyone who brings new socks or a cash donation to the event will get a free, on-site photoshoot from one those photographers. All of the socks and cash will go to NEOCH.

“It’s important to help because everybody needs help. Everybody needs a helping hand sometimes. Some people get down on their luck temporarily or long term. If nobody comes to help them then how do they progress? How do they move out of this tough turbulent time that they might be in?” Hatten said.

Every year, the organization’s street outreach teams give thousands of essential items to homeless people in the Cleveland area.

Molly Martin, the Director of Strategic Initiatives for NEOCH, says they give away more than 10,000 pairs of socks a year to people in need.

“I think that the need is great during a pandemic when so many public spaces are closed down or people are outdoors all day long walking, on public transit. And I think something as simple as a fresh pair of socks when they encounter an outreach worker is something that they’re really thankful for and it’s a high need item,” Martin said.

The six photographers who will be participating in the event include Ernest Hatten, Jef Janis, Shemiah Woods, Julian Harris, Bridget Caswell, and Celena E.H.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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