I opened the door to see what state the Clothing Room was in. It was a day just like any other at The Mustard Seed Clothing Room. It appeared to be stocked up nicely by today’s volunteer. I noticed the garbage can as I walked out.
What drew me back for a second look was a pair of the most worn out shoes I’d ever seen in my life.
With a gloved hand, I drew the shoes out of the garbage to have a better look at them.
As I turned the shoes over, something like sawdust fell out from the insides like snow onto the floor. Perhaps the wearer of the shoes had lined them with newspaper that shredded over time, I thought.
The bottom soles were so completely worn through the different layers, one completely to the inner sole.
How could someone have been wearing these shoes? I couldn’t really fully conceive that someone had recently been wearing these shoes, even just today. I imagined the discomfort and pain that wearing shoes like these could cause day after day, week after week and month after month.
There was a knock on the closed door of the Clothing Room. I usually don’t answer the door unless we’re opening up but there is a saying, “Call it odd or call it God” and this was definitely a God moment!
I met the man whose feet had suffered in these shoes.
He wasn’t old, but he wasn’t young either. He explained that he needed a pair shoes.
That the ones he had been wearing were causing immense pain in his feet. He calmly said he’d just thrown his shoes out as he pointed to the garbage can. This man was not a stranger to suffering. This all seemed like an understatement to me! Something told me that this gentle man was not a stranger to suffering and my heart went out to him.
Together we looked on the shelf for size 10½. There were none to be found. He left with a pair of runners he said were a bit too small but better than what he’d been wearing. I promised I would do my best to look for his size.
I pondered these shoes and this gentle person long after he left and came back with my phone. I posted this picture on my Facebook with a call for anyone who had shoes his size.
One person, who used to work at the shelter, responded and followed up by bringing his own to the shelter. He was due for new pair he told me. I didn’t buy that as they were brand name runners still in great shape.
Over the four years I’ve been on staff at the shelter I have seen a great many guests, sitting on their mats rubbing bare feet. I’ve seen many blisters, frostbitten toes, infections, toenails grown right over top the toes and curled underneath digging into the skin.
After all this time when I see the photo of our guest’s shoes I’m still shocked!
For the sake of our fellow men and women, please donate your comfortable, gently used walking shoes, sneakers, and work boots for homeless guests at The Mustard Seed.
I guarantee you will make someone very, very happy!
Written by Cindy McKay
Volunteer Coordinator, Clothing Room, Foothills Shelter