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A new pair of shoes for a child may last a school year, but a smile, a few words of encouragement and the words, “Jesus loves you,” may just last a lifetime.
That is exactly why volunteers from Renew Church, Covenant Baptist Church and Team Church Kershaw joined hands and hearts to distribute shoes to local children in need.
Organized by Renew Church, the goal was to distribute 650 pairs of shoes to school-aged children from the Lancaster Outreach Project, the Hispanic community and children of families in financial need from Kershaw and Lancaster.
On Aug. 6, Renew Church and Covenant Baptist gave away 295 pairs of shoes, socks and sackpacks filled with school supplies donated by Office Depot Foundation.
Then, on Aug. 13, Team Church Kershaw gave away another 98 pairs of shoes.
Made possible by financial contributions from Springs Close Foundation, Founders Federal Credit Union and Lancaster County Partners for Youth, the event at Renew Church went almost according to plan, said Pastor Eric Kramer of Renew. Volunteers overcame a temporary power outage with the power of love.
“It was hot, no air-conditioning. It was dark, no electricity, but it went without a hitch,” Kramer said. “It was well worth the effort to see the smiles on the children’s faces.”
Kramer said the shoe giveaway, which is now in its third year, has become a Renew staple.
“Our core values to connect people to each other, Christ, and the city are all accomplished in this single event,” he said. “There is the added pleasure of seeing the children “glow” when they receive their new shoes and sackpacks.”
Covenant Baptist Associate Pastor Tim Howard the shoe givers and volunteers get a bigger blessing than the shoe getters.
“We were so happy to take part, for the third year, providing shoes and socks for some Lancaster children as they begin their school year,” Howard said. “Working with the three sister churches and the local businesses to meet this need is a real blessing. Covenant celebrates efforts like this and hopes to continually seek ways to be a help for our community.”
The remainder of shoes, socks and sackpacks will be given to the Lancaster Outreach Program and the Hispanic community this month by Olivo Verde Church.
The local shoe giveaway is one segment of the Back to Basics distribution by Samaritan’s Feet.
A nationwide effort, Samaritan’s Feet hopes to provide 40,000 pairs of shoes for children in the United States this year.
Samaritan’s Feet was founded by former University of North Dakota-Lake Region basketball player Emmanuel “Manny” Ohonme.
Ohonme credits the inspiration for his non-profit organization to his own experience as an impoverished 9-year-old boy in Nigeria where a “Good Samaritan” from Wisconsin gave him his first pair of shoes.
He parlayed those shoes and love of basketball into an education by earning a college scholarship. His degree then became a springboard as a successful business executive.
Ohonme, who now lives in Charlotte, N.C., with his wife Tracie, and their four children, never forgot the difference that pair of tennis shoes made.
Determined to help children in his impoverished homeland, he left a comfortable job and and founded Samaritan’s Feet.
Since 2005, its global ambassadors have washed the feet of nearly three million people in more than 40 nations and put shoes on them. Samaritan’s Feet hopes to put 10 million pairs of shoes on the feet of 10 million children in the next 10 years.