Heart and Soles

Volunteers were measuring the stocking feet of those who waited their turn to get a new pair of heavy-duty work boots or shoes bearing the Red Wing logo at the Urban Mission Ministries on Wednesday.

There was no guessing on size – there were 10 volunteers with a foot measurement device and other volunteers who searched for the correct size in either an above-the-ankle boot or a sturdy shoe.

Dr. Stephen F. Conti, an orthopedic specialist with Trinity Medical System, said the “Our Hearts to Your Soles” program that started 10 years ago is a national charity that puts on clinics at various sites around the country. Volunteers help to see that those who need help with foot problems are referred to proper health facilities.

“There are free foot examinations, and each client will get a pair of socks. These are all new shoes from Red Wing. They also receive a goodie bag of personal hygiene products and another of food products. Nationally, there are 6,000 to 7,000 pairs of the work boots and shoes from Red Wing distributed along with products from Dignity You Wear from New York. This is the season of giving, and what better way than to give a well-fitted shoe,” he said.

“When it started 10 years ago, it was just for men who went out into the work force or need warm shoes. Now it is 50-50 men and women,” Conti said.

Helping make the program work efficiently were trainees and staff members from Trinity and other professionals.

Dr. Chad Ferguson, an orthopedic surgeon, was fitting women for shoes.

“We are here to check on medical problems that people might have with their feet. If there is a problem that cannot be cared for here, they are referred to another facility for a free evaluation,” he said.

Shaunnie Gilbert, who was trying on a pair of shoes, said she had received a pair of shoes several years ago and appreciated receiving another pair.

Dwayne McElwaney of Steubenville said this was the second year he was receiving the footwear. They are very needed in his work with the Affordable Tree Service, he said.

Denise Ryan of Steubenville also received a pair of shoes that will help in her efforts with the Urban Mission, where she volunteers each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

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