In this season of giving, McDonnell’s is truly a model to be emulated.
After working in Soho at Atrium, a men’s clothing store, McDonnell makes a daily trip to Grand Central Terminal, in search of people in need.
Three years ago, while playing basketball with friends, McDonnell got the idea for his one-man nonprofit organization, “It’s From the Sole.”
“I saw a homeless guy with no shoes on,”McDonnell told the New York Post. “So I left the ballgame, took off my shoes and offered him my sneakers and he took them with a smile. As I walked away, I felt the gravel under my own feet, and it just hit me there has to be something more that I can do.”
Since that first day, McDonnell has gained support from big name brands such as Adidas and North Face, who commonly donate items from left over photo shoots and celebrity stylists, who donate gently used clothing. Even some basketball players such as Carmelo Anthony, Al Harrington and Chauncey Billups have donated gear.
“Here you go, man,” the 40-year-old said handing over a pair of high-top gold TS Lite AMR sneakers to Pete, a homeless man with a cardboard bed, on one of his most recent trips, as described in the Post. “I got a pair of socks, too. You want a pillow? It looks like you could use one.”
“I wash them at my local laundromat,” explained McDonnell of the shoelaces that go in the shoes he donates. He spends about $50 to $60 of his own money per week on the project.
McDonnell always makes sure to go to the three major spots that he has dubbed “The Love Triangle” — the areas around Grand Central Terminal, Port Authority and Union Square.
“The best feeling is to see a homeless person in the shoes I gave them,” he said. “I know that they appreciate it, and it just may make their walk in life just a bit easier.”