More than 65 homeless men who walked into an Atlanta shelter kicked off their shoes — if they had any — and replaced them with a new pair and some advice.
Through Our Hearts to Your Soles, each man received a new pair of fitted shoes and socks during the event, which was held recently at the Central Night Shelter.
Between their shoe fitting and a hot meal, the men received free foot exams from local orthopaedic surgeon Sourendra Raut.
“I enjoyed the service I was able to provide,” Raut said. “It was enlightening to see those pathologies and those types of individuals and see what kind of problems they face.”
He said for many, the amount of time spent walking in secondhand dress shoes or work boots has caused recurring blisters or callouses.
A few had toenails that hadn’t been clipped in months or even years.
Raut addressed those problems and offered solutions.
“Some of them weren’t so keen on receiving advice, they just wanted their shoes,” he said. “But there were others that appreciated the tips. The biggest thing they wanted to know was how to prevent these things from occurring in the future, what kind of things they could do to avoid these little callouses.”
During the event, he was also able to give some training on proper foot care to those who work regularly at the shelter.
For Raut, who practices at the Resurgens Orthopaedics offices in Cumming and Roswell, this was his first time participating in the annual Atlanta event.
Nationwide the program, which launched in 2006, provides shoes to nearly 5,000 people each year at about 50 locations.
The mission of Our Hearts to Your Soles is “to provide the less fortunate people across the United States with shoes and free foot examinations. We believe that proper foot health is an essential part of everyday life and important to an overall health maintenance program.”
The annual event takes place after Thanksgiving, which Raut said is great timing.
“The weather’s getting colder and these gentlemen are out on the streets for the most part or barely making it,” he said.
Raut got involved this year when a Resurgens partner in a south Atlanta office needed someone to help him. He had always been interested in participating and jumped at the opportunity.
Raut said from his perspective, the experience allowed him to give back and gain knowledge from a group of people he’s unlikely to see in his office.
“Coming out of it, I enjoyed it enough that I want to do again,” he said. “One of my goals is to do more in terms of charity foot care work.”