College of Medicine Student’s Gift Starts Shoe Drive for Homeless Vets
Reid Green, a first-year medical student at the UCF College of Medicine, donated his shoes to a homeless veteran and in the process ignited a program that so far has collected 300 pairs of shoes and socks for needy servicemen.
Reid, of Venice, FL, enrolled at the college in August and hopes to someday specialize in geriatric medicine. During his undergraduate study at the University of Florida, Reid worked in a soup kitchen for the homeless. So when he heard about Orlando’s recent Veterans Affairs’ Stand Down, which provides food, shelter, clothing and health screenings to homeless veterans, he volunteered to participate.
As Reid was handing out clean clothes, towels and soap, a homeless vet approached and asked where he might obtain shoes. “His shoes were ripped, torn, falling apart,” he said. “I got this feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had to do something.”
In a quiet location, the medical student approached the homeless vet and handled him his own shoes. “He kept saying, ‘Are you sure? Are you sure?’ and I said, ‘Man, you need these. You need to cover your feet.’ And as I looked at this vet who had served our country, I realized we were about the same age. Our lives had taken different paths, but that was the only difference between us.”
Another volunteer at the event, Bessie Lamb, who works in Orange County’s Drug Court, sent an e-mail to VA representatives talking about Reid’s contribution.
“As we performed our duties in the shower area, one veteran came through whose shoes were literally falling off of his feet,” Lamb wrote. “One of the volunteers, Reid Green, a medical student at UCF, without hesitation took off his shoes and gave them to the homeless veteran. Reid says it was the least he could do because he felt the veteran “needed them more.” For the next two hours Reid stood on the damp asphalt in socks without a word of complaint. If only there were more people in the world like Reid.”
Later that night, Reid told his mother, Randi, about the experience. She teaches Pilates at a YMCA in Venice and immediately jumped on the bandwagon. She and other volunteers created fliers, set up collection barrels at the Y and urged people to donate shoes and socks. On Wednesday, Randi and Reid gathered at the UCF College of Medicine to organize 300 pairs of donated shoes and take them to the local VA office.
“My mom is such a giving person, I knew exactly what she’d do when she heard about the need,” Reid said. “Now this is something Mom and I are doing together. It’s pretty cool.”