HARTFORD -- Hundreds of homeless people now have a warm pair of socks and shoes on their feet thanks to a growing local nonprofit organization, called Foot Wear With Care.
It all started with one homeless veteran, one dedicated Hartford police officer, and one pair of new boots.
“It was getting ready to be a winter storm. I walked down by City Hall and met [Officer Jimmy Barrett],” says Joseph Edwards. “He told me he was going to help me out and in two days he did.”
Officer Jimmy Barrett approached Edwards, who only had flip-flops to wear on his feet during the cold winter months.
“...then I went out and purchased a pair of boots and some food,” says Hartford Police Officer Jimmy Barrett.
Officer Barry’s one small act of kindness has now launched an entire organization.
“...and then I linked up with Abby Moore and she took it to a whole different level,” says Officer Barrett.
Now, since 2016, Foot Wear With Care services homeless people in Hartford every year, providing them with a meal, socks, gloves, hats, and, of course, shoes.
“It’s actually inspired me,” says Abby Sullivan Moore, the founder of Foot Wear With Care. “It’s made me realize how a single act of kindness can rip all throughout a community and generate so many acts of kindness and then come to this.”
Moore says just giving a homeless person the right pair of shoes can allow them to keep or start their jobs. This year, more than 100 volunteers came to the Christ Church Cathedral ready to hand out more than 500 pairs of boots. Foot doctors came out to help find the perfect fit. The boot distribution allows the acts of kindness to continue to ripple. It's a time when the people who Officer Barrett has helped are able to give back.
“The fact that I’m on the other side of the table now [is] overwhelming, but it is one step at a time,” says Peter Pinter, who used to be homeless.
Many of the volunteers handing out boots to the homeless were once in their shoes.
“It feels good. It’s a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders,” says Pinter. “I’m not the one saying oh can I have this can I have that.”
Beyond shoes, it fosters relationships between police and the community.
“It’s not about a badge sometimes it’s about the person behind the badge and I got to learn that first hand,” says Edwards.