If you’re giving your boots the boot, boot ’em to someone who needs ’em!

There’s a fellow we’re going to call Kevin. That’s not his real name, but
it’s the name that will do just nicely for this story.

Kevin was going through a rough patch. When he split up with his
girlfriend, he turned to go back home to ‘Dad’. His father was having his
own rough patch and was actually living in the rig that he used to haul long

Kevin found himself at the Bayside Mission at 16 Bayfield St in Barrie. It
used to be a daily newspaper office, but today it houses an enormous food
facility, a store and individual rooms and beds, showers and bathrooms for
people who have nowhere to go.

Kevin was one of those people. He needed an address to get a job. He also
needed two months’ rent to get a place to live. And he got a job pouring
cement for a company in York Region. Every day Kevin jumped in a truck with
a few other guys and ‘commuted’ to York Region to work.

The friendly people at the Bayside Mission would set aside a dinner which
they’d re-heat when Kevin arrived home late. They’d put together a lunch
for him for the next day. He’d grab an early breakfast and head out the
door. He looked Major Roy Randell in the eye and said, “I’m really glad to
be here, but I won’t be here long!” And he wasn’t.

As Kevin rushed in for his supper one night, Major Roy looked down at his
work-dirty clothes and his wet socks… Kevin’s second hand workboots were
leaking like a sieve. Roy went to the boot cupboard and pulled out a pair
of boots that were perfect for Kevin. Steel toed, because that’s the law,
leather, softened and waterproofed. These boots had seen newer days, and
their owner had donated them to the Salvation Army’s Work Boots program when
they were replaced. These boots had lots of life left in them and they were
just what Kevin needed.

In a few weeks, Kevin had saved his first and last for rent, had found a
place to live, and he and his clothes and boots moved out to start again.
His Dad joined him in their new place. The Salvation Army store was able to
help with furniture, bedding, dishes etc.

And that’s the purpose of the Salvation Army’s Work Boot program. Major Roy
Randell says there are lots of overnight ‘guests’ at the Bayside Mission.
Many of them are re-starting their lives and getting a job is the first
step. When the job requires steel toed boots, whether they’re leather
workboots or rubber wellingtons or steel toed shoes, that’s a bill that
can’t be paid before the work starts.

Roy says that many local factories often supply their workers with new boots
every so often… they bring the old boots down to Roy. Many people offer
their used boots once they’ve picked out a new pair. And the boots aren’t
restricted to men. “We have women coming in looking for work boots, too,”
says Roy. The Salvation Army usually does a bit of a job check to make sure
the recipient really is using the boots to work.

Roy says Nicole is the Boot Program coordinator, among her other duties.

You can donate your boots in three ways:

During daytime, week day hours, drop them in the front door office at 16
Bayfield St. and Nicole will receive them. If it’s after hours, drop them
to the hostel which is open 24 hours a day and is in the back of the
building, kitty corner to the Bus Terminal. Or, you can drop them to the
Salvation Army store on the property. Roy says it’s important to tag them
for the Work Boot Program or they’ll end up on the store shelves. If you’ve
got questions, Nicole can be reached at 728-3737.

As we talked, Roy took stock of what was in the workboot cupboard today…
not much. Three pairs of knee high rubber boots with steel toes, and 8 pair
of steeltoed workboots. Sizes matter and the more they receive, the better
size selection they can offer.

It’s an important step to booting back up!

Thanks, Roy. Thanks, Nicole. And thanks to all of you who donate your used