Christiana Care’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery provided new shoes, socks and foot exams for free to nearly 100 people — many of them homeless — at the Sunday Breakfast Mission, a homeless shelter in Wilmington, as part of Our Hearts to Your Soles.
Our Hearts to Your Soles is a national organization whose mission is to provide people in need with shoes and free foot examinations. Red Wing Shoes donated 95 pairs of new shoes through the organization.
Paul Kupcha, M.D., section chief of Foot and Ankle Surgery at Christiana Care and an orthopaedic surgeon, is the local coordinator for the event. Dr. Kupcha said that foot health provides a clue to a person’s overall health. Joint stiffness, for example, can indicate arthritis; tingling and numbness can be connected to diabetes; swelling can indicate high blood pressure or diseases of the heart and kidneys.
“By providing our neighbors who are homeless with shoes, they are able to get more physical activity and are protected from frostbite,” said Dr. Kupcha, who has volunteered with Our Hearts to Your Soles for six years. “We also examine individuals’ feet and treat them if they are suffering from chronic foot-related problems.”
Hypertension, respiratory illness and foot problems are the three most common health issues that the homeless face, says Rev. Tom Laymon, executive director of the Sunday Breakfast Mission.
“The fact that the homeless walk everywhere they go means that their feet are taking a greater beating than the rest of us,” Rev. Laymon said. “So the ability for them to get shoes that fit and see a doctor means that you’re helping them out. Like putting new tires on a car, you’re retreading them in a lot of ways by giving them shoes and foot care.”