Over a year of planning went into developing our organization and an initial business plan in order to hold our first event. In September 2004, we registered Our Hearts to Your Soles with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This was followed by website development, soliciting shoe donations, and coordinating the physician volunteers. We also faced numerous fundraising challenges before finally collecting 100 pairs of shoes.
On February 24th, 2006, Our Hearts to Your Soles sponsored its first event, which occurred at the Light of Life Ministries on the North Side of Pittsburgh. Over 50 men received the care they needed and left with a new pair of shoes. The medical staff trimmed thick toenails and callosities. A man with a sore on his foot received local wound care. Some men in size 9 shoes were properly fit into size 12 shoes. The men at the shelter expressed their gratitude: some with words of thanks and others with a simple smile or nod.
The organization continued to grow from February through August 2006, and we wanted to expand our outreach to locations outside of Pittsburgh. After a successful February event, donations to Our Hearts to Your Soles increased. We therefore decided to branch out to another part of the state.
Our second event was a coordinated effort between the Pittsburgh group and doctors and volunteers in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on August 17th, 2006. The Pittsburgh group conducted its event at the Pleasant Valley Mens' Shelter. Dr. Jorge Bustillo from Hershey Medical Center and his volunteer group went to the Betheseda Mission in Harrisburg. We were able to provide shoes and foot care to over 150 men, and for the first time, we saw the potential of Our Hearts to Your Soles to truly make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate across the nation.