More than 100 homeless individuals in Rockford receive new winter boots

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ROCKFORD, Ill (WIFR) -- More than 100 new pairs of boots are walking out of the Rockford Rescue Mission thanks to OSF HealthCare.

“It’s really nice to be able to give back and not just do your same daily work every day and give something else back to the community,” says podiatry resident Brittany Wojnicki.

The medical provider donated winter boots and basic foot care services for dozens of men, women and children at the Rockford Rescue Mission.

“Seeing people smile and say their really excited to get their new boots or that they really needed foot care and didn’t know where to go,” says Wojnicki.

“That we’re able to provide that and just seeing someone smile because you gave them foot care is what really drives me.”

There are over 300 homeless individuals in Rockford, many who spend winter nights in a shelter without proper footwear.

“It’s cold, it’s going to be really cold out there,” says Teresa Reeverts, Director of Program Support Services at the mission. “A lot of our people have ill-fitting shoes or in fact, one gentleman came in with just sandals on this morning. Sandals and socks.”

The mission hopes by giving out winter boots before the harsh winter temperatures set in it will help prevent diseases like frostbite.

“Preventative care is the most important thing and getting appropriate referrals for our people is huge,” says Reeverts.

“Our clients aren’t privy to some of the health care we get, including podiatry. New boots are definitely a luxury here, so their very excited about that.”

For people like Kenneth Hancock, it’s also a boost of confidence.

“This is my first new pair of shoes in four years,” says the show recipient. “You just walk a little bit different.”

Last year OSF HealthCare also provided boots and foot care to 60 guests at Carpenter's Place in Rockford.