CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Community members came together in Charlottesville on Saturday for one of the city’s longest running traditions: the annual shoe drive for the homeless. Local podiatrists teamed up once again with Salvation Army to make sure those in need got the right pair for them.
For almost three decades, people in need have been invited to the Salvation Army gym to find a pair, or two, or more for themselves and their loved ones. Volunteers say when they arrived for the shoe drive Saturday morning, people were already lining up outside the gym.
“We have volunteers to come in and all they do is matchup pairs," Salvation Army Major Walter Strong said. “Today, we’ve got a whole whole crew that comes in and will assist the people as they go looking for shoes.”
Dr. Sandy Schustek started the event almost 30 years ago with the support of the American Podiatry Association.
“We usually collect about three to 4000 pairs of shoes a year," Dr. Schustek said. "People come, they pick up the shoes, and there’s no finance involved. They can take as many as they want.”
Dr. Bryan Snyder, another podiatrist who has volunteered at the event for years, says that a good pair of shoes can be a game changer.
“A good supportive pair of shoes underneath your feet, it really takes takes a lot of shock out of your knees and your back and then, and feet in general,” Snyder explained.
Oftentimes not having a good pair of shoes can lead to bigger health issues for people that are already vulnerable.
“We worry about people with diabetes,” Schustek explained. "People that can’t afford shoes for workplace, and we unfortunately, deal with people all the time that have cold injuries and have sores, infections, blisters, that are secondary to ill fitting and improper shoes.”
Luckily, Charlottesville has always been more than willing to give.
“I always say, I don’t know where they come from when people have a lot of shoes,” Schustek said.
Next year will mark the shoe drive’s 30th year in Charlottesville. The organization hopes to have their biggest event yet.