A gift of shoes restores her faith in humanity

Many a day I’ve wondered, “How are we going to get through this?” “This,” meaning, the power of callous people […]

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Many a day I’ve wondered, “How are we going to get through this?” “This,” meaning, the power of callous people to change the world in the wrong way.

Then I wake up to a new day and new possibilities. This is what happened recently, which opened my heart, again, to the potential of human caring:

I woke up one day knowing I was going to “try on” some shoes at a store. I wanted New Balance, which are systemically made for people with foot problems. I did not know I would walk out with a gift of two pairs of shoes.

Most of you who know me know I am poor. And poor for many of us means doing without for a long time. Sigh. I’m not feeling sorry here. We are a resilient bunch. For many of us, though it gets hard.

My county, through its public assistance program, has not seen fit to help me get a new pair of walking shoes as a medical issue. That is despite my partially crippled feet and back injuries. So I wait and wait and wait until I get renters’ rebate money here in Minnesota, sometimes two to three years, until I can use that money for shoes. And my feet DO hurt.

So a miracle happened, as it does when people help each other. I was desperately waiting for my check from the state. I called my neighborhood store, explained my predicament, the need for the medically useful New Balance shoes, and the physical problems and financial challenges. And she said, come in anyway, and we will find some way to help you before August.

What? I was not sure I had heard her correctly, but I did not ask questions, and arranged a ride to the store. She was not there due to a family emergency but urged me to work with another co-worker. And I did.

After an hour, we found the version of shoe that was the same as what I bought three years ago. They were old stock, but the exact shoes I needed with the best and support for my feet, back and hips. It’s complicated with multiple disabilities getting what we really need.

They were also cheaper, on a massive sale. But how could I do this, without money until August? In addition, I needed two pairs in case I could not find the same pair after these wore out. Sigh. Asking for what we need. I said to this lovely man, “You know, wouldn’t it be great if you had a second identical pair so I would have another pair of shoes in two years when these wore out? He did. I offered to spend some months paying them off.

We sat there and talked, and then I went to the bathroom wondering how this would work. I returned, to see him walking toward me with a bag … with two boxes of brand new shoes. This had never happened to me before. Two brand new pair of New Balance shoes. I would have shoes now for four years.

I could not hold it in. I just stood there and burst into tears. For several minutes I just cried, while the staff watched and I explained how long I always had to wait for a new pair of shoes, and how much pain it cost me to walk outside in broken-down shoes.

I made many friends that Friday.

L.A. Reed



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