More than one hundred pairs of shoes were unloaded from a small SUV and distributed to those who wanted a pair at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Morningside Heights Sunday.

The drive was put on by Sidewalk Samaritan for its 3rd annual Shoe Day giveaway. The shoes were purchased from Soles 4 Souls for the event.

The organization’s founder and president Emily Borghard unloaded the car with her mom Karen.

What You Need To Know

  • Sidewalk Samaritan gave out free shoes on its third annual Shoe Day

  • The founder Emily Borghard started the organization three years ago after giving out socks to people living in the subway

  • St. John the Divine is holding Holy Week in person for the first time in two years

  • Borghard said there was even greater interest due to the city taking down homeless encampments

Borghard said the line Sunday was one of the longest lines she’s seen in her years of organizing the giveaway. She says more people than ever need footwear because of the city’s recent initiative to take down homeless encampments.

“I started getting phone calls from people who are on the streets asking when we were going to be out next and that all of their stuff was thrown in the garbage,” Borghard said.

Borghard is a social worker by day in the city and was inspired to start her organization after giving out socks to people living in the subways.

“I started talking to these guys and they had stories to tell,” Borghard said.

This giveaway fell on Palm Sunday the day where, according to Christian tradition, Jesus made his entry into Jerusalem the week before his crucifixion. It marks the beginning of Holy Week, which culminates with Easter. The goal of this year’s celebration was to offer healing

“Today when there is so much death in the world and when so much that we thought we could count on us being overturned especially in Ukraine Palm Sunday reminds us that even God knows our struggles,” said Father Patrick Molloy, of St. John the Divine.

Palms and a new pair of shoes were a light for those who stopped by.

One man, who declined to give his name, smiled when getting a new pair of boots and said “You can’t get these nowhere else.”

Though Shoe Day is once a year, Sidewalk Samaritan does other giveaways at St. John the Divine every three weeks and at different locations throughout the city.

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