St. Stephen’s event pairs homeless with shoes

A local doctor and a national organization are planning an event to give area homeless a chance to literally get back on their feet.

Dr. Lance Silverman, an Edina-based orthopedic foot and ankle specialist, is teaming up with St. Stephen’s Human Services, 2211 Clinton Ave. S., and the national organization Our Hearts to Your Soles to provide free shoes and foot screenings to Minneapolis’ homeless population on Nov. 20.

Our Hearts to Your Soles was formed in September 2004 by Pittsburgh-area students Matthew and Laura Conti. On their website, they explain the idea for the charity came to them after volunteering at a local hospital and noting the number of medical issues that arose from donning improper footwear. Some people had no shoes at all, while others had fashioned makeshift footwear out of plastic bags or cardboard and twine. Still others had footwear that was far too large or small in size. Problems ranged from blisters and calluses to more severe musculoskeletal injuries. The students got in touch with shelters, but noticed that while many distributed food and clothing, very few could provide shoes to all who desperately needed a pair.

Silverman noted that proper foot care is especially important in Minnesota.

"The homeless in the Twin Cities are significantly at risk, since exposure to winter snow and ice increases the risk of injury from slips, falls and cold exposure," Silverman said.

The foot clinic will be held from 5–7 p.m. on Nov. 20 at St. Stephen’s Human Services. It is the fourth outreach project for Our Hearts to Your Soles and the first to include 25 cities in different states simultaneously. Our Hearts to Your Soles credits the willing participation of local doctors and partnership with Soles4Souls, a footwear charity that was formed in the wake of the 2004 Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. Together, the organizations hope to improve the lives of many people who do not have the resources to help themselves. As Our Hearts to Your Soles continues to grow through the help of volunteers and donations, the charity looks to plan an outreach project with services in all 50 states.

For more information or to make a donation, visit www.heartstosoles.com. More about St. Stephen’s Human Services can be found at www.ststephensmpls.org.