PA Shoe Shiner Donates $200,000 in Tips to Children's Hospital
Dubbed the unofficial mayor of the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Albert Lexie starts his rounds before dawn. However, Lexie is not a doctor at the hospital. He is a shoe shiner at the hospital. Still, Lexie has managed to make a huge difference - over the 30 years that he has worked at the hospital, he has managed to raise $200,000 for the hospital's foundation in order to help provide care to children whose parents cannot afford it otherwise.
According to ABC News, Albert Lexie shines shoes every Tuesday and Thursday at the hospital. Shoe shines cost $5, but each dollar he makes in tips goes toward donations to the hospital's foundation. Lexie donates hundreds of dollars each week. In addition, ever the entrepreneur, Lexie is always searching for ways to donate more. Sometimes he holds contests in which the person who donates the most amount in tips wins a prize, like a candy bar. He says that his customers have been generous; one year, a doctor tipped him $50.
"I think he does it because he loves the kids," Dr. Joseph Carcillo said to WTAE. "He's donated over a third of his lifetime salary to the Children's Hospital Free Care Fund."
Mr. Lexie has been shining shoes since high school, when he noticed some kids making shoe shine boxes. Lexie constructed one himself. His passion for philanthropy also started early, when he saw an admired TV anchorwoman covering the story of the Free Care Telethon.
In the three decades that Lexie has worked at the Children's Hospital, Lexie has become an institution. He has also received a degree of fame, with his appearances on Oprah. Regardless, he has stayed humble and true to the hospital - and, when he crossed that $200,000 mark, the hospital gifted him with a purple shoe shine cart.
A few years ago, the Los Angeles Times reports that Dr. Carcillo saw Mr. Lexie with a sad look on his face. When the doctor asked him what was wrong, Mr. Lexie said that his dream was to have a book written about him, and that it would not come true.
Last year, the foundation published Albert's Kids: The Heroic Work of Shining Shoes for Sick Children.
For Lexie though, he has always had high hopes - his new dream is for the book to sell a million copies.