Newswise — Matthew Conti, MD, an orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), and colleagues aim to provide 250 free pairs of new shoes and socks and will offer free foot exams to people in need at the Mainchance Drop-In Center in Manhattan on Saturday, November 19 from 12 pm to 2 pm. Dr. Conti, who recently joined HSS, launched the nonprofit “Our Hearts to Your Soles” when he was just 15 years old with his father, also a foot and ankle surgeon. The Mainchance Drop-In Center is located at 120 East 32nd Street, between Park and Lexington.  

As a teenager, Dr. Conti volunteered at a wound care clinic in Pittsburgh and saw the potentially devastating consequences when people with diabetes or another health condition develop severe wounds on their feet. He began to think about homeless people who develop foot problems because they don’t have a proper pair of shoes, especially during the cold weather months. A lack of access to medical care exacerbates the problem, potentially leading to foot infections, frostbite… or worse. In 2004, Dr. Conti teamed up with his father to launch “Our Hearts to Your Soles” to provide desperately needed footwear, socks and foot exams, mostly to people who don’t have a place to call home. The organization has grown and over the past 15 years has provided more than 50,000 pairs of shoes to people in need at events held nationwide around the Thanksgiving holiday.

For this year’s shoe-giveaway in New York City, Dr. Conti partnered with Mainchance, the Grand Central Neighborhood Social Services Corporation multi-service facility. The Drop-In Center mainly serves a diverse street homeless population of single adults, offering a variety of services. Center administrators have already identified and reached out to clients who could benefit from new shoes and socks at the November 19 event.

Red Wing Shoes has generously donated 2,500 well-made, sturdy pairs of shoes that will protect feet in freezing temperatures for the 17 Our Hearts to Your Soles events around the country this year. The footwear is ideal for the many recipients who work outdoors. 

Dr. Conti says anyone found to have a foot infection or other serious problem will be referred for medical care, free of charge.

Our Hearts to Your Soles only accepts donations of new footwear because, as Dr. Conti explains, “in addition to providing protection, a gift of brand-new shoes provides a tremendous boost to recipients’ self-esteem.”

About HSS

HSS is the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. At its core is Hospital for Special Surgery, nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics (for the 12th consecutive year), No. 4 in rheumatology by U.S. News & World Report (2021-2022), and the best pediatric orthopedic hospital in NY, NJ and CT by U.S. News & World Report “Best Children’s Hospitals” list (2021-2022). In a survey of medical professionals in more than 20 countries by Newsweek, HSS is ranked world #1 in orthopedics for a second consecutive year (2021). Founded in 1863, the Hospital has the lowest complication and readmission rates in the nation for orthopedics, and among the lowest infection rates. HSS was the first in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center five consecutive times. An affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College, HSS has a main campus in New York City and facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut and in the Long Island and Westchester County regions of New York State, as well as in Florida. In addition to patient care, HSS leads the field in research, innovation and education. The HSS Research Institute comprises 20 laboratories and 300 staff members focused on leading the advancement of musculoskeletal health through prevention of degeneration, tissue repair and tissue regeneration. The HSS Innovation Institute works to realize the potential of new drugs, therapeutics and devices. The HSS Education Institute is a trusted leader in advancing musculoskeletal knowledge and research for physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, academic trainees, and consumers in more than 145 countries. The institution is collaborating with medical centers and other organizations to advance the quality and value of musculoskeletal care and to make world-class HSS care more widely accessible nationally and internationally. www.hss.edu

About Our Hearts to Your Soles

A nonprofit organization, the mission of Our Hearts to Your Soles is to provide the less fortunate across the United States with shoes and free foot examinations. The organization believes that proper foot health is an essential part of everyday life and important to an overall health maintenance program. Over the past 15 years, the nonprofit has provided more than 50,000 pairs of shoes to people in need at events held nationwide around the Thanksgiving holiday.

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Robin Frank