BURLINGTON, VT -Hearts to Soles originated in Pennsylvania in 2006 and shortly after expanded nationally. The main event takes place at different homeless shelters and facilities across the U.S to provide shoes and free foot screenings. The event always takes place the day before Thanksgiving.
Every year, doctors from the University of Vermont Medical Center Orthopedics and Rehabilitation Center provide foot exams and help hand out shoes and socks.
Orthopedic Surgeon Jim Michelson, MD, founded the event in Burlington and has been planning it for the past twelve years. He works with the national Heart to your Soles organization and COTS to get everything ready.
“It’s why I went to med school, ya know, it’s why I became a doctor to help folks and this is the purest form of being able to help the most vulnerable population in a way that I’m trained to do,” said Dr. Michelson.
The event took place at the Committee on Temporary Shelters also known as COTS daystation. COTS daystation is a space for adults experiencing homelessness to connect with services including food, employment, and housing.
Tina Cusson, a recipients of the shoes and screenings said she has experienced homelessness for over two years. She was excited and grateful to receive a new pair of boots.
“All I have is these shoes right here so it’s going to be great that my shoes aren’t able to get wet,” said Cusson. “”Id fear I’d be walking in these sneakers all winter so I am grateful.”
Director of Development and Communications for COTS Becky Holt, said this is the biggest day of the year. On average the daystation sees around 43 people a day, but today they will see around 100. The event is a great way to remind people to appreciate the little things before the big day of thankfulness.
“Today is the day where you remember we live. The guests appreciate, the doctors appreciate, and the staff appreciates,” said Holt.