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Brooklyln man goes Above and Beyond to provide new sneakers for NYC's homeless

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Rob Nelson has the story of a Brooklyn man who's going Above and Beyond to put shoes on the feet of New York City's homeless. (WABC)

A Good Samaritan is on a mission of mercy to change lives, one sole at a time.

This compassionate New Yorker is going Above and Beyond, helping the homeless get back on their feet, by giving them footwear.

It was three years ago after a basketball game in SoHo when Andre McDonnell of Brooklyn spotted a man with no shoes.

Andre then offered up his own size 12 sneakers..a moment of compassion and clarity.

"He put them on right there in front of me, and there was a feeling that I had that I never had in my life," said Andre. "And I realized that I can do this and I want to do more."

More is an understatement. Andre now runs a group called "It's From the Sole", dedicated to providing new or refurbished sneakers to New York City's more than 60,000 homeless.

In the last three years, he and a small group of volunteers have doled out more than 7,000 pairs for free.

"Me and my team are really into the sneaker culture, and we wanted to take this sneaker culture and utilize it in a helping way," said McDonnell.

Large bags in tow, Andre and crew travel to Penn Station and the Port Authority a few times a week.

The need here is clear, and so is the gratitude.

"Lot of people that are on the streets, that's one of the issues is your feet, you know if you're not showering every day, you have nowhere to shower, changing your shoes and socks is a big deal for your feet, so it's a good thing," said a homeless man.

"God bless the guys that's giving them to us, because we need them," said a homeless woman.

It started as merely a hobby for Andre and some friends, but the program has grown since 2012, thanks to private and corporate donations.

Andre works in the fashion industry, but off the clock proves that nothing is more stylish than having heart.

"I think people in New York, we're stepping over the situation, over this problem and we're not dealing with it, because we don't have to," he said.

The program even has two high school interns, who are learning at a young age what it means to give.

"The people that we just encountered today were so happy, grateful that we gave them shoes," said intern Michael Johnson. "It made their day and that's a powerful feeling."

To go Above and Beyond, sometimes you have to start below.

"I've been doing this for three and a half years and it's changed my life," said Andre. "I want to help, my organization wants to help. We want to help people, we're not walking by."

Related Topics:
societyabove and beyondcharitysociety
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