Most individuals are wrapped from head to toe as the wintry winds howl their way across the concrete jungle that is Midtown Manhattan. Some suffer through the frigid temperatures, even sometimes without socks and shoes. This is a problem Andre McDonnell and his organization are aiming to end. It’s From the Sole is a nonprofit charity providing sneakers to the less fortunate in New York City. “ We want to take this sneaker culture and give it back to people who need it,” said McDonell, standing in front of Madison Square Garden.
In 2012, McDonnell felt compelled to start his organization, after a pickup basketball game with his friends. The pain of the gravel below his feet, after giving his sneakers to a homeless man, Andre’s passion to give back to those in need was ignited. It made him realize there are millions of people in this man's position and there is something he can do to ease their experience. “I remember looking back into my closet and seeing all of these sneakers I didn’t wear, knowing not everyone has the same opportunity.”
It’s From the Sole works with everyone, from local residents, businesses, and even universities. They collect shoes that are new or unused, wash them to ensure they’re in proper condition, and even replace the old insoles and shoestrings. At the end of the process, McDonnell hops on a train and hand-delivers these sneakers to those who need them the most. “It means from the soul of your heart, to the sole of your feet, that’s what we do.”
McDonnell’s work goes beyond the streets of New York. He’s delivered over 500 pairs of sneakers in Texas, 700 in Oregon, and 2,570 in Pennsylvania. They’ve broken borders, while delivering nealy 2,000 sneakers in the Caribbean, South America, Europe, and Africa. In New York City, there are roughly 67,000 homeless people, and this number is expected to rise. Andre wants his organization to be known for their outreach and positivity. “I need people to believe that there is comfort and service out there, that's what It’s From the Sole is doing.”
To date, It’s From the Sole has distributed over 30,000 pairs of sneakers to those who are less fortunate. McDonnell’s hope is that his organization continues to grow, uplifting those in need. “I hope when I leave this Earth, people can say I did my all to help those who couldn’t afford the most simplest things.”