Published: 2011-05-20 10:20:23
Author: HAROLD CARMICHAEL
George Young estimates he walks some 20-25 miles a day.
"I got a pair for me and a pair for my friend," said the 52- year-old man after dropping by a BioPed/Salvation Army Dignity Day event at the Salvation Army's Sudbury Centre on Larch Street on Wednesday.
"It's because of my feet. They (shoes) are getting worn out."
Young, who is on Ontario Disability Support Program benefits and has an apartment in the Donovan, is a regular visitor at the centre. He was one of more than 100 men and women who turned out for the shoe-fitting event, during which new and gently used shoes collected by the local BioPed store were distributed.
Young left the foot clinic with a pair of new Saucony 11- and-a-half size running shoes. He said the shoes will make a real difference in his life because after he takes care of rent, hydro, food and other monthly expenses, he has little money left over. An epileptic, he also does not have a car and relies on his feet to get around.
"This is good," he said. "It should be done more often. I used to live in Calgary. The Knights of Columbus used to do it at Christmas with winter boots."
In addition to helping with everyday tasks, Young said the shoes will help him in another regard.
"I go around and pick up whiskey bottles and beer bottles and cans to make extra money," he said.
Maj. David Carey, the centre's executive director, said seeing the smiles on the faces of the people leaving with new footwear was priceless.
"I think it's an extremely fantastic program," he said. "If you don't have a place to live, you spend a lot of time on your feet ... It makes a big difference."
"The people who have come in and left with a new pair of shoes had a big beaming smile. It's something that makes people feel good about themselves again. Who doesn't like to get a new pair of shoes?"
The Greater Sudbury BioPed location was one of more than 60 BioPeds in four provinces that closed their doors so that staff could be on hand with partners like the Salvation Army to hold foot clinics for the homeless.
BioPed's goodytwoshoes foundation has been organizing the clinics for two years now with help from the public through donations of gently used shoes.
Robin White, a certified podiatrist and co-owner of the Greater Sudbury BioPed location, was a busy man, conducting traffic at the foot clinic.
"The response has been better than expected, especially for the first time," he said.
Along with a new pair of shoes, each recipient attending the clinic also got a new pair of socks.
White said the condition of the footwear being discarded at the event proved just how badly the new shoes were needed.
"Badly worn, for sure," he said. "Some shoes were blown out on the sides. The tops were worn out. The soles were gone. They were worn far too long. In some cases, the cores were rotted and still wet."
White said the strong response has him thinking there is a need for a fall foot clinic