Shoe-Shiner ‘Pays It Forward’ Over A Lifetime

By  //  February 24, 2013

Philanthropic Hero

(VIDEO: wtaetv)

EDITOR’S NOTE: I recently ran across this piece by Pittsburgh television station WTAE on a genuine humanitarian hero, who walks the walk of a true philanthropist, and found it so compelling that I wanted to share it with our readers. As you can see and hear from the video, Albert Lexie, long-time shoe shine artisan, who plies his trade at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, has dedicated his life to the love of the children and their families that pass through the hospital, and “pays it forward” through charitable donations of every tip he receives to financially help those children and families who are in need.  

PITTSBURGH ( — It starts before dawn in the Pittsburgh darkness, as the 88 Penn pulls up in front of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and Albert Lexie gets off the bus. For 32 years, Lexie has been examining his schedule each morning, like a doctor on the clock. But the longtime shoe shiner’s gift isn’t healing, it’s giving back.

A shoe shine costs $5, but Lexie said customers have been generous with their tips since he started working at the hospital in 1981. “Most of them give $6, some of them give $7,” Lexie told Channel 4 Action News anchor Wendy Bell.

Albert Lexie has also authored a book called Albert’s Kids: The Heroic Work of Shining Shoes for Sick Children, which details his work, and is available for purchase through a donation to the hospital.

And Lexie gives every cent of his tips back to the children.

“I think he does it because he loves the kids,” said Dr. Joseph Carcillo. “He’s donated over a third of his lifetime salary to the Children’s Hospital Free Care Fund.”

The money goes to parents of sick children who can’t afford to pay medical costs.

“He’s a philanthropist, is what he is,” said Carcillo. “He’s an entrepreneur.”

Lexie has donated $200,000 to the cause, bringing in several hundred dollars a week.

“I had a doctor who gave me a $50 bill for Christmas,” he told Bell with a laugh. For a simple man who’s been shining shoes since about 1957, Lexie admits, “It’s good to be a hero.”