10/20/2012 03:49 pm ET Updated Oct 20, 2012

Redeeming Soles: Scott Sowle, Former Homeless Man, Provides Shoes To The Needy (VIDEO)

Meet Scott Sowle, the shoe guy.

In 2011, Sowle began a charity to help bring shoes to Seattle's homeless people. Since Sowle was once homeless himself he knew firsthand the difference that a good pair of shoes could make to life on the street.

Sowle's 13 years living on the street were a constant struggle of trying to avoid the pain and bitter cold that his feet often felt. In an interview with KOMO News, Sowle described living under Seattle's Magnolia Street Bridge until he was able to find shelter.

"I struggled so bad that I wanted to jump off the Magnolia bridge just a day before going into the Union Gospel Mission shelter," he told KOMO News.

Even while at Union Gospel Mission, Sowle saw that the shoe shelves at the shelter were almost always bare, and he still wasn't able to find protection for his feet.

One day, however, Sowle had an idea.

He began sitting at a street corner with a sign, a box, and a bunch of fliers -- and asked people to give him their used shoes.

The movement instantly took off. People donated dozens of pairs of shoes. Sowle cleaned them and disinfected them. Then he sorted them, and took them to the streets.

Today, Sowle takes the shoes wherever they are needed: homeless shelters, food banks and the place where it all started -- the Mission. He is met with hugs, smiles and surprise.

"Sometimes they're shocked. Most of them are really happy," Sowle told KOMO News.

Eventually, Redeeming Soles was born.

Founded by Sowle, Redeeming Soles is a Seattle-based charity that organizes a footwear collection and distribution center for the benefit of local organizations and provides medical treatment for feet.

"It's like a gift from God," one recipient said. "He'll come up to you and he'll bless you with a pair of shoes."

"I took for so many years when I was on the street. I just.. always took. I was taking from services that were given to me, and I wasn't able to give back," Sowle said. "Today, I can give back. And that's huge for me."



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