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 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.
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.
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.
Disclaimer: We now operate as a social enterprise and not as a non-profit organization. Learn more about why we made this shift here: