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Format: 04/23/2014
Format: 04/23/2014

News

AGH Doctor, National Group, Partner to Provide Socks, Shoes to the Homeless

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

PITTSBURGH – “Our Hearts to Your Soles,” a nonprofit group started by the teenage children of Stephen Conti, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon at Pittsburgh’s Allegheny General Hospital (AGH), today partnered with the national charities Soles4Souls and Dignity U Wear to deliver free shoes, socks and foot medical examinations to 10,000 homeless and indigent people nationwide.

Working alongside Catholic Charities in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Nov. 24, “Our Hearts to Your Souls” and its outgrowth ministry “Socks2Soles” started by Christopher Conti, offered free, high-quality Red Wing shoes and new socks to hundreds of the area’s homeless and indigent men and women at Catholic Charities downtown Pittsburgh headquarters. To help teach other students about the homeless Chris Conti developed a video which can be seen on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vH53iI9Q6QI

In addition, AGH physicians offered free medical foot screenings, free flu shots given by the AGH Pharmacy and AGH’s Dietary Department provided food.

“We are proud that this program has grown into a nationwide effort and that we are able to serve so many of our neediest neighbors and proud to see so many AGH people pitch in to offer services to the homeless,” Dr. Conti said.

“Our Hearts to Your Soles” has grown continually since its inception four years ago.

Dr. Conti’s son Matt formed “Our Hearts to Your Soles” after seeing firsthand the consequences of wearing improper footwear while volunteering at the AGH Wound Center. Dr. Conti had traditionally opened his office to homeless men for foot screenings on the day before Thanksgiving.

Matt wanted to take his father’s Thanksgiving efforts a step further, and so created a business plan and began raising money and seeking shoe donations. At the group’s first event, at the Light of Life Ministries on the North Side, 50 men left with a new pair of shoes. Dr. Conti also recruited physicians who trimmed toenails and calluses, and he coordinated a similar event later that year with Harrisburg-based physicians. A second event in 2007 provided shoes for all the men staying in the Light of Life shelter on that night.

Laura Conti, Dr. Conti’s daughter, made the effort even bigger by obtaining nonprofit status for “Our Hearts to Your Soles” and partnering with a Nashville-based charity, “Soles4Souls” to expand the effort to 40 states.

On Thanksgiving 2008, the Contis’ group, “Our Hearts to Your Soles,” partnered with “Soles4Souls” to distribute shoes to 4,000 homeless men around the country. Despite its national impact, the group remains rooted in the Pittsburgh community and spent Thanksgiving 2008 not only distributing shoes and socks to 200 men in downtown Pittsburgh but caring for their foot sores, wounds and calluses.

In 2009 the local effort soared as nearly 500 men and women received new shoes and socks as well as needed health screenings from AGH personnel in a daylong event held at Catholic Charities.

Earlier in 2010, Dr. Conti was named among seven finalists for Most Outstanding Volunteer of the Year for the 2009 Jefferson Awards for Public Service, administered by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The finalists were selected from 50 volunteers nominated by citizens from the region for their exemplary contributions. This year for the first time, all 50 will receive Jefferson Award medals, considered the Nobel Prizes of volunteerism.

 

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