DeGroote students bring warmth to Hamilton’s homeless through Toques from the Heart

February 21, 2021 | Hamilton, Ontario
Contributed by Mike Pearson, Ancaster News

Toques from the Heart

Social enterprise business repurposes gently-used hockey socks

Like many Canadians growing up playing hockey, Matthew Milne accumulated quite a collection of hockey socks.

After playing a game back in 2012 or 2013, Milne put a sock on his head, as a joke. His mother, a skilled seamstress, told him she could make the sock into a toque, if he wanted.

Toque from the Heart logo“The idea kind of stuck, until I found something to do with it,” said Milne, 21, an Ancaster resident and co-founder of a new social enterprise business called Toques from the Heart.

The business operates on a one-to-one donation model. For every toque sold through the website, a toque is donated to someone experiencing homelessness.

During the pandemic, toques have been distributed through social service agencies and non-profits.

Toques sold through the website are produced through a hockey sock manufacturer in York Region, using new materials.

Toques donated to the community are made from repurposed hockey socks.

“We are 100 per cent Canadian-made, across the board, from production to our products themselves.

Joining forces with friends Matt Carter and Casey Rogan, the three McMaster University commerce students had a big year in 2020, donating more than 1,750 toques to people experiencing homelessness.

Buy a Toque, Give a Toque

Canada Team toqueSpreading the word through social media, the three students received donated hockey socks from players, teams and minor hockey associations across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas.

Toques in a variety of colours and designs are available to the general public online at There are some in traditional colours, like blue and white or red and blue, to appeal to hockey fans in Toronto and Montreal, respectively. Others feature classic designs that are popular among those who aren’t necessarily hockey fans.

“In 2020, our goal was to donate 1,500 toques,” said Milne. “We reached our goal by Christmas and we’re on track to hit 2,000 by the end of this winter.”

Milne, Carter and Rogan, who are still in university, plan to continue the momentum of Toques from the Heart well into the future.

Milne said the company hopes to expand its reach and its charitable giving Canada-wide.

Looking beyond the pandemic, Milne would love to have a presence at hockey tournaments and to sell the toques at local sports apparel shops.

The company can currently ship toques across Canada and the United States.

For those looking to contribute to the charitable campaign, Milne said the best way is to order toques online. The company has plenty of gently-used hockey socks on hand and is no longer soliciting additional donations.

Mike Pearson Headshot

Mike Pearson

Editor, Ancaster News

Mike Pearson is Editor of the Stoney Creek News and the Ancaster News. He has spent his entire career with Metroland publications, beginning at the Grand River Sachem in Caledonia in 2005. Pearson has also served as a reporter for the Ancaster News. A lifelong Hamilton Tiger-Cats fan, Pearson lives in Hamilton. He can be reached at

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