Warm Boots Warm Hearts is living up to its name as they spend a third winter touching people's souls with soles.

Robyn Brown and her family have been collecting winter boot donations since 2019, first collecting for families Brown worked with at a family resource centre. After putting out the call, Brown learnt many people had boots to donate, and there were people wanting to use them. Now, she heads up Warm Boots Warm Hearts.

"The majority of our clients are using their feet main mode of transportation. So that means that the reason that we are trying to give boots is that we are trying to remove the barriers that would keep them from getting to where they need to be," Brown says.

She's seen people not be able to work because they only had hole-filled runners to get them through unplowed and icy streets, or children missing school. 

Last year they hoped to collect 50 pairs and instead walked away with 400.

On Monday, Brown went to the Millenium Library to drop off a pair of size 13 boots that were requested by email. While she was dropping them off with a library social worker, the man, L, happened to be there at the exact same time.

"He came out to meet me and he said 'look what I am wearing. I wanted to show you why I need these new boots.' He gave me permission to snap a photo of his old pair."

With cold toes poking out of his boots, L expressed his thanks for the new boots and socks.

"He said 'I like to keep my things until I wear them out' and these were definitely worn out. We were happy to give him a new pair. He was just very appreciative and it was a really nice, warm fuzzy moment for us."

This moment was not a new one for Brown and her family at Warm Boots Warm Hearts, but L allowed Brown to share his story in hopes of persuading people to donate boots. Brown says each year the boot demand changes, noting that teenage boys are always in need of warm boots.

"A lot of programs that families access in the city children age out of them and there is that awkward in-between where they are not old enough to access adult's services but they are not young enough for child services."

Boot requests are made both privately, like what L did, or through community partners. At the end of the year, the remaining boots are given to "boots to the ground" organizations to distribute.