Medical students are on a mission to help out the homeless in Buffalo.

“It means a lot to me,” said Jackie Dowell.

For almost two years, Dowell wore the same shoes every day. But now he has a new pair.

“It brightened my day, made me happy that I don’t have to walk around in the winter with some crappy shoes like I was just doing recently,” he said.

Dowell, 26, was one of several homeless people who received free foot care and a pair of boots Thursday night thanks to UB HEALS, a street medicine outreach initiative of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo. It aims to bridge the gap between the homeless and the health care system.

“It’s a true privilege honestly,” said Reema Panjwani, a UB medical student.

UB reports 5,500 people are homeless in Western New York. Without proper shoes and socks, health problems can arise like fungal infections and ingrown toenails. That grim information inspired these medical students to do their part to make a difference.

“We chose medicine as a career to help people but to be able to take this moment, step outside of the classroom, step outside of the school and to provide that medical care that we learned so much is humbling,” Panjwani said.

“It’s a blessing,” Dowell said.