New York resident Andre McDonnell spends all his spare time handing out free shoes to the homeless. Through his charity organisation ‘It’s From the Sole’, the generous 40-year-old has given away over 5,000 pairs of shoes in less than three years.
Andre’s idea is very simple: he collects new or gently used sneakers through donations, and then cleans them thoroughly himself. He actually spends $50 to $60 each week to wash donated shoes at a laundromat. Once the shoes are cleaned, Andre walks to the Grand Central Terminal and Union Square every day to hand them out to the homeless. Whenever he makes a donation, he takes a photograph along with the recipient and emails it to the donor. He also puts up the pictures on his Instagram page, where he has over 2,000 followers.
It all started three years ago, during a basketball game that Andre was playing with his friends. “I saw a homeless guy with no shoes on, so I left the ballgame, took off my shoes and offered him my sneakers and he took them with a smile,” he recalled. “As I walked away, I felt the gravel under my own feet, and it just hit me there has to be something more that I can do.”
“I have always been the kind of person that if I see a homeless person and they say they’re hungry, I wouldn’t give them money but I would take them to any store and feed them,” he added. “The best feeling I get is to see a homeless person in the shoes I gave them. I know that they appreciate it, and it just may make their walk in life just a bit easier.”
“The reason why I do this is because of the blessing that you get. You realize when you’re doing this, how much you’re complaining about things that really, really don’t matter. The things that I complain about and the things that I nag about, there are millions of people in this world who are doing way worse than I am. This is what I chose to do and I’m going to do it.”
Andre explained that It’s From the Sole means ‘it’s from the soul of your heart to the sole of your foot’. Over time, he has taken the movement to other cities such as Philadelphia and even Paris. He has also graduated to donating food, clothing, pillows and more. His motto is simple: “It’s the little things that count.”
If you are interested in donating a pair of sneakers, or anything else that might be of use to a homeless person, you can find out more about It’s From the Sole it on the charity’s Facebook page, or on its official website, itsfromthesole.org.
Photos: It’s From the Sole/Facebook