Doctor, team give shoes to homeless

They couldn't believe that someone was giving them free socks and shoes.

But more than that, they couldn't believe the socks and shoes were dry and clean. And new.

For the second year, a Wichita doctor and her medical team will participate in Soles4Souls, a Nashville-based charity started in 2005 that has given away 12 million pairs of new or like-new shoes to homeless people in 125 countries.

Naomi Shields, a Wichita doctor with Advanced Orthopedics Associates who is a foot and ankle specialist, will give free foot screenings and distribute shoes to men at the Union Rescue Mission on Tuesday.

Mary Wine, administrator for Advanced Orthopedics, said when Shields learned about the Soles4Souls program, her response was, "I'd like to do something in Wichita."

So Shields and medical professionals from her office went to the mission and fitted men for new shoes and took care of basic foot care needs such as cutting toenails and removing calluses. Shields made arrangements for men who needed more care than what she and the staff could provide that day.

"They really didn't know what to expect," Wine said. "It was just an amazing event."

One man was wearing flip-flops going into winter, Wine said.

Ciera Gurley, a medical assistant at Advanced Orthopedics, said they gave away 119 pairs of new shoes, donated by Red Wing, last year.

"A lot of them were just very, very grateful," Gurley said of the men who received shoes.

She said the staff ran out of shoes for the most common sizes and hopes to be better prepared this year, although it was more difficult this year getting shoes donated.

The shoes and socks will be distributed starting at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Only residents of the shelter who have been pre-screened will receive shoes and foot care.