Friday, November 20, 2009

Soles4souls Program Offers New Shoes for Wichita's Homeless

November 20th, 2009
BY Courtney Looney

The Wichita Eagle

Kevin Duckett sat in a chair in the hall of the Union Rescue Mission on Thursday night as Jason Tanner measured his foot. Size 13.

“Let’s see what we can round up for you,” Tanner said as he headed to a storage room filled with boxes of new shoes. “I’ve got some new socks for you, too.”

Duckett, originally from Pittsburgh, was among the first to benefit from a national program that provides shoes for those in need.

Naomi Shields of Advanced Orthopaedic Associates in Wichita has been working for over a year in partnership with Soles4Souls, a nonprofit organization that holds shoe drives around the country.

“A lot of homeless walk a lot . . . and a new pair of shoes make a huge difference,” Shields said.

The Soles4Souls program is known for its contributions during natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina.

Shields said the nonprofit, which is based out of Tennessee, is making an effort to provide shoes for those who need them all over the country.

With the help of the Union Rescue Mission, 2800 N. Hill-side, Shields and her team provided 150 pairs of shoes and 100 pairs of socks to those at the shelter on Thursday night.

Other people on Shields’ team also specialize in orthopedics and helped with the drive.

“They’re bringing sizing devices and my idea is that they will be actively fitting shoes,” Shields said. “Myself and my nurse will be doing foot exams, toenail clipping and possibly

referring them to get medical treatment if needed.”

Mary Wine, administrator at Advanced Orthopaedic Associates, said it is the first time the business has taken part in a project of this size.

“We’re not doing this for our business,” Wine said. “We’re doing it for people in need.”

With the help of Red Wing Shoes, the shoes were donated.

Rick Pierson of Capital Orthopedic Center and a member of Shields’ team, was able to get a company to donate the socks.

Union Rescue Mission is a men’s homeless shelter. Shields said she didn’t want people to think the project is discriminating against women. All that was donated were men’s shoes.

The plan is to make the event bigger next year if it is as successful as anticipated, she said.

“Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for things,” Shields said. “This has become a much bigger project than just collecting a couple of pairs of shoes.”

Out in the hall, Duckett finished lacing up a pair of brown work boots.

“Looks good,” Tanner said. “How’s it feel?”

“Good,” Duckett said.

“Stand up and see they feel,” Tanner said.

“They feel good,” Duckett said. “They feel good.”

Duckett said he wasn’t expecting a new pair of shoes when he walked into the Union Rescue Mission on Thursday.

“It caught me by surprise,” he said.

Contributing: Hurst Laviana of The Eagle

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