West Hartford’s Fleet Feet Sports, and resident Abigail Sullivan Moore, have coordinated the event along with the Connecticut Podiatric Medical Association and the Hartford Police Department.
Footwear with Care, a nonprofit that provides new footwear, socks, medical foot exams and other support for homeless persons, will host its annual winter boot distribution on Saturday, Dec. 7, from 9 a.m. to noon at the University of Connecticut – Hartford campus at 10 Prospect St. in downtown Hartford. All participants must be registered in advance to attend.
On Saturday Footwear with Care expects to help at least 400 people experiencing homelessness. The nonprofit also hosts a similar large-scale event in the spring for shoes and responds to calls for footwear help throughout the year.
Since 2016, Footwear with Care has put more than 3,000 pairs of good shoes and boots on the feet of Hartford’s most vulnerable residents. Homeless people often don’t have decent footwear, though they usually travel on foot, in all kinds of weather. The nonprofit’s volunteer doctors also have delivered at least 550 critically needed foot exams.
Journalist Abby Moore founded Footwear with Care, inspired by he example of Hartford Police Office Jimmy Barrett, who bought a pair of shoes for a fellow veteran who was then homeless.Fleet Feet Sports in West Hartford, the Connecticut Podiatric Medical Association and the Hartford Police Department – including Officer Barrett – are partners in the program, which now operates under the aegis of the Connecticut Podiatric Medical Association Foundation. Officer Barrett is now designated as the citywide “homelessness officer,” helping individuals in need throughout Hartford.
This is the first year the “boot party” will be held at the student center at UConn – Hartford. UConn alumni, students and faculty make up many of the 100 volunteers helping at the event. Trinity College students, Canton High School students, and individuals, businesses, religious organizations, local foundations, and healthcare providers from throughout Greater Hartford also are stepping up. St. Francis Hospital, again, will be sending its volunteer team of podiatric medicine doctors, surgeons and residents.
Dattco volunteered Monday to provide a bus to transport families with small children from two shelters to the event—an essential in this week’s cold weather. Trinity college students are making lunch to go that they will distribute on Saturday. Bags of Love is providing toiletries. And Trailheads is donating cold-weather hats.
“All the support is heartwarming,” says Moore. “It also tells our homeless friends that they are not walking their journey alone.”
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