Albert Lexie was a pleasant man with an interesting pastime. Every week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, he spent his leisure time shining shoes at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. He would then contribute his gratuities to pay for the medical bills of youngsters who needed treatment but whose families couldn’t afford it.
He charged only $3 per shine, but over the course of 30 years, he was able to donate more than nearly $200,000 to sick children who were uninsured or underinsured. This allowed countless youngsters to obtain much-needed medical care.
Albert began taking the bus to the children’s hospital in Monessen, Pennsylvania, in 1982, to shine shoes for donations. The bus travel is slightly more than two hours each way, but Albert was unconcerned, and he would leave his residence at 5:50 a.m. to be at the hospital during their busy hours.
Albert made less than $10,000 per year from cleaning shoes and donated his tips to the Free Care Fund, which assists impoverished children with medical expenses.
«I think Albert is a symbol of philanthropy and generosity,» said Chris Gessner, president of the hospital. «He’s the kind of special person that people hope for in the world.»
Albert’s cause was dear to the hospital personnel, and they were delighted to assist him. Chris first encountered Albert 18 years ago while passing through the hospital and saw a big number of people who were not wearing shoes.
«I saw that half of the folks were barefoot. When I inquired about what was going on, they replied, ‘It’s Albert. He’s polishing shoes in the hallway.'» Chris stated.
«He was solely concerned with helping sick children.» He remained focused on his work. He was a friendly, cheerful man, yet he was obsessed with shining shoes to aid the youngsters.»
Albert’s humanitarian endeavor began to gain popular recognition and support. In 1997, Albert was awarded the Jefferson Medal for Outstanding Citizen. In 2001, he received the Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Albert received the National Caring Award from the Caring Institute in 2006, and in 2010, he was one of 30 recipients in Major League Baseball’s «All-Stars Among Us.»
His community even declared «Albert Lexie Day» in 1999, and the Port Authority of Allegheny County provided him with a lifelong transit pass to enable him get to and from the children’s hospital.
Albert passed at the age of 76, but his legacy of compassion for helping children receive the medical care they need has touched the hearts of millions. He taught us that when we use a bit of our free time to help those in need, we can make a beautiful difference in the world.
Watch the following video of Albert and his passion to help disadvantaged children: