A man sleeping on the street is gently awakened by a question asking if he wears a size 9 or 10. After the stranger rummages through a duffel bag, a new pair of red and black sneakers is handed to him.
The stranger is Andre McDonnell, a self-proclaimed style maven who works in New York City’s fashion district. The 40-year-old began giving away new athletic shoes to homeless folks about three years ago, using the personal touch of hand delivery– usually in Grand Central and Penn Stations where many congregate. His one-man charity outreach, “It’s From the Sole,” distributed 4,000 pairs of sneakers last year alone.
The inspiration for his work struck the Brooklyn man while he was playing basketball one summer and noticed a homeless man walking in the streets without shoes. Suddenly compelled to help, he walked over and gave the man the shoes off his feet, and a clean pair of socks he had in a bag. He has been “outfitting” the less fortunate ever since.
He has received many donations, maybe because he offers to send personal photos of the people wearing the donated items.
For anybody out there who desire to make a difference, including businesses, McDonnell says, “I’m going to help you help them.”
He is now making It’s From the Sole a 501(c) organization, which will lead to even more donations of shoes. He also plans to recruit high school and college students to help pass out the kicks.
(WATCH the video below or READ more in the Metro) Photo by SummerShowerPro, YouTube