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Walmart employee gives shoes off his feet to barefoot homeless man

The 18-year-old formerly homeless Walmart employee knows what it's like to not own a pair of shoes, so he was happy to help someone in need.
/ Source: TODAY

It's not a sight you see every day: an 18-year-old Walmart employee taking off his pink shoes to give to a homeless person.

But Myrna Kines witnessed the kind act Friday while picking up a few household items at her local branch of the retail giant in Douglas County, Georgia.

"When I asked to take his photo, he looked at me and said 'Why?'" Kines told TODAY. "I told him that what he did deserved recognition."

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The employee, Phil Powell, knows the struggle of being homeless — it wasn't long ago he was on the streets himself. The teen currently lives with his godmother while working to provide for his mom.

When he saw a barefoot man walk into the store, Powell — who was checking customers' receipts at the entrance — assumed the man had come to buy shoes. But when he left unshod, with only a soda in hand, Powell didn't think twice before removing his Converse sneakers and giving them away.

His sneakers were originally red, but he had bleached them pink to honor his grandmother who battled breast cancer.

"It was the first time I wore the shoes to work and (I) was worried I looked like an oddball," Powell told TODAY. "I have another pair of shoes. He doesn't."

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Later that day, Powell's boss, Mike Kastensmidt, noticed his employee's bare feet. After learning what had happened, he took Powell to the store's shoe department to pick out any pair of shoes he wanted. The teen went with a $13 pair of slippers.

"I learned a lesson from this selfless act today," Kastensmidt wrote on Facebook. "Great job Phil."

While driving, Kines later saw the man wearing the pink Converses on the side of the road.

"I've been around for a while and have never seen an act of kindness like that before," Kines said. "It gives me hope there's still good in the world."