Elderly Shoeshiner Saves Over $200,000 in Tips After Working for 30 Years – Then Does Something Unexpected With the Money

Inspiring Stories

Despite their best efforts, hospitals aren’t exactly the most cheery of places. I mean, who doesn’t love the stunning selection of “Get Well” mylar balloons at the Gift Shop (right beside the bed pans)! But once we realize, that the nurse is never coming back with the second Jell-O cup we asked for…it’s easy to feel restless and in need of some TLC.

One hospital worker spent 3 decades devoting his life to helping the sick children in need — just not in the way you’d think!

Read on to learn about the extraordinary man who, for 30 years, practiced a unique form of medicine — the kind that mends souls.

Every Penny Counts — $202,000 Journey of Kindness

Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review / UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

For over 30 years, Albert Lexie, 76, worked his magic at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Children’s Hospital — only he didn’t have quite the job you think he would!

Albert wasn’t a fancy doctor or a hardworking nurse. In fact, if you weren’t looking hard enough, you may just pass Albert by. In the hustle and bustle of the hospital, Albert quietly worked away…shining strangers’s shoes.

But don’t underestimate the power of quiet giving.

With only his humble shoeshine box, Albert was able to save lives — and in the most unexpected way.

It really is true when they say, every penny counts! One $3 shoeshine at a time, Albert accumulated a whopping $202,000 fortune — just in tips!

But here’s the kicker; he didn’t keep a cent!

Instead, he directed every hard-earned tip to the Children’s Hospital’s Free Care Fund, ensuring that uninsured and under-insured kids in Pittsburgh received the medical care they needed.

Wow. Talk about an everyday hero.

The Shoeshine Shuttle — He’d Take 3 Buses Just to Get To Work

elderly man shining a man's shoes
Bill Wade/ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP

Picture this: every Tuesday and Thursday, Albert boarded not one, not two, but three buses to reach the hospital. Even though the journey was almost as laborious as the job, Albert had a nurturing spirit that just couldn’t be stopped, no matter how many buses it took!

It all started back in high school, when Albert was just 15-years-old. Like many boys his age back then, Albert had taking a shining (pun intended) to the wood shop classes offered in school.

For one assignment, Albert dared to make a handcrafted shoe shine box…and the rest is history. Over the years Albert would build up a simple but purposeful business, but he wasn’t in it for cash and prizes.

Decades later, when he set up shop at Children’s Hospital, Albert was intent to keep his costs down — like way down. Despite decades of experience, he only charged a modest $3 for per shine.

Service With a Smile

While his customers would get a toe-tapping touch up that would make their loafers look brand new, Albert would just enjoy chatting with strangers or sitting in comfortable silence.

Most of the time, being at a hospital means “bad news” may be just around the corner. Even though he may not have been saving lives, Albert is proof that a kind personality goes a long way.

You don’t have to be the funniest person in the room or even the most charming…you just have to live life with a soft and open heart. It can make a difference in ways you can’t even imagine — at least it did for Albert.

Despite his annual income hovering around $10,000, this humble shoeshiner earned $220,000 in tips! Talk about good customer service.

Even though he had little of his own, his commitment to giving knew no bounds. Every tip he earned went straight to the sick kids who he spent 3 decades watching over from his humble shoe shine station.

“I Want to See the Kids Get Well” — From Shoeshiner to Superhero

elderly man in a gift shop
ABC News

Albert’s story isn’t just about shoeshines; it’s about a man on a mission.

Even after 30 years of dedication, he wasn’t seeking fame or fortune. He was chasing a simple goal: “I want to see the kids get well.” His selfless actions spoke louder than words, turning him into a living legend at the hospital.

While Albert shied away from the spotlight, his kindness didn’t go unnoticed.

The 76-year-old’s accolades were far-reaching. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Caring Americans and was honored at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 2010.

Sure, these accolades weren’t his endgame (so to speak); they were by products of a life dedicated to making a difference. And even though he may not have needed the press? It doesn’t mean the press didn’t need him.

With an endless loop of heart breaking news, uplifting stories like Albert’s are a reminder the world isn’t such bad place — and we can be part of the good.

VIDEO: More on Albert Lexie’s Story Below

A Letter of Legacy: Albert’s Impact Lives On

Even though Albert Lexie passed away in Oct. 2018, his legacy remains vibrant. His story is a living testament to the power of small acts of kindness.

The Children’s Hospital president perfectly encapsulates Albert’s impact: “He is the perfect example of how small incremental acts of kindness can impact millions of people.” Albert’s story is a reminder that every step, no matter how small, can leave a lasting imprint.

Daily commitment does make a difference…just not over night. Embrace simplicity, find joy in the everyday, and little by little even the smallest gestures can create waves of change.

Find your $3 shoe shine and make the world a brighter place!

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