Reporter's Notebook: Shoeshiner donates $200K in tips to kids' hospital

PITTSBURGH - Reporter’s Notebook:

A lot of us “talk” about what we’d like to do to help others, if we only had the time or the money. How much we could do to make the world a better world, “if we only had … ”

You should meet Albert Lexie. I did. He is one of the most impressive human beings I’ve ever met and I’ve met a few folk over the years.

Albert Lexie is 71.  He is a shoeshine man.  It is the only job he has ever had.  He started when he was 15.  Albert is the kind of man you might see at the mall and walk past.  Or get a glimpse of him on the street and avoid making eye contact.

Albert has been described to me as “developmentally disabled.” He is painfully shy. There is a childlike innocence to this kind man.

But Albert Lexie has donated more than $200,000 to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.  It’s his tip money.  For the past 36 years, Albert has taken every dime of his tip money from shining shoes and donated the cash to the charity of his choice.  He got the idea watching telethons, ABC News reported.

We interviewed several people at Children’s Hospital about Albert.  Most had tears in their eyes and a smile on their faces. As one person described it, “Albert has only one skill: shining shoes. And he gives it everything he has.”

Albert considers that “one skill” a gift from God.  Albert is a man of faith and says it demands that whatever gift or gifts God gives him, he is obligated and rejoicing for the opportunity to share it.

Albert’s only regret: He is not able to open a large chain of shoeshine shops across the country, which would enable him to give more.  He has one shoeshine cart a friend (customer) built for him.  It was an upgrade from the shoeshine box he carried on his shoulder for years.

So, 1 skill PLUS 1 shoeshine box PLUS 1 shoeshine man EQUALS  $200,659 and counting.

Albert shines shoes at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh every Tuesday and Thursday.  He leaves his home before the sun comes up, usually about 4:30 a.m.

He doesn’t own a car so he takes the bus. Ninety minutes and two bus rides later, Albert arrives at the hospital to use his one skill to make a living and make life better for people (children mostly) he will never meet.

So what’s that about you don’t have the time or the money to help someone else?  Two words and one thought. Albert Lexie. Serve where you stand.

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