Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - A Syracuse man has been repairing shoes for nearly 40 years, but in recent years, he has been donating some shoes to the needy.
Ralph Rotella owns Discount Shoe Repair, a business in which he repairs all kinds of footwear and has them looking good as new for customers.
Rotella started a new venture a few years ago, one in which he accepts shoe donations to be repaired for the less fortunate.
"I see a lot of people go by outside, torn shoes, especially in the wintertime. I saw this guy about four years ago when I started this up, it was so cold, so snowy, so windy, the shoes were all falling apart, his feet were sticking out. I felt so bad I said, I gotta do something about it," Rotella said.
Rotella collects everything from gently used to roughly used footwear. With a little shoe polish, some shoelaces, maybe new heels, he has shoes that can make a big impact for someone with so little.
"You gotta have something on your feet. First thing your feet are frozen you feel so cold," Rotella said.
Rotella started with 65 pairs of shoes his first year and now, his goal is to donate 3,000 pairs of shoes this year.
At the moment, he has about 1,500 shoes, but Rotella says he feels confident he'll hit his goal by Christmas.
And that's the pay off for Rotella - the joy he experiences by helping others when he takes all the shoes, boots and sneakers he's repaired and donates them to the Rescue Mission
during the holiday season.
"I'm so happy. Sometimes you’re so happy you can't even explain yourself, how excited when you do something nice for people," Rotella said.
Rotella says that he's had donations from as far away as Florida, Texas, and Maryland, and that anyone can help by simply checking their closet for shoes they haven’t used in a while.
You can drop off your shoes during regular business hours at Rotella’s store located at 116 E Washington St., in the University Block building in Downtown Syracuse.