It didn’t take long to convince me that the gift of a pair of shoes through Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls® is the first step in a child’s, and sometimes even a family’s life. On my first international trip with Buckner, I witnessed first-hand the life-changing possibilities that a simple pair of shoes can deliver.
At Buckner, we call it hope.
I saw hope in that child’s eyes after I knelt in front of him, washed his dusty feet and slipped on a pair of new white socks and blue running shoes onto his little feet. Hope came in the form of a gleaming smile. Ear-to-ear style. Then, he stood up and jumped, and for a while, it seemed that he could jump higher, so high that he could reach new heights. I hoped and prayed that he would.
Since 1999, Buckner has been collecting and distributing new shoes to children worldwide. It’s our largest humanitarian aid effort, and we crossed the 3-million mark in shoes distributed a few years ago.
These new shoes come from organizations, individuals and churches across the nation. My favorite is when a church comes together and does a successful drive. Over the last three years, an average of more than 350 churches have hosted shoe drives annually, and in 2016, 415 churches did so.
Some host shoe drives church-wide; others have small groups or Sunday School classes that host drives; still others yet have youth or women ministries that host drives; some do it as a special Vacation Bible School project – whatever the case, it’s church members who see the possibility of a new pair of shoes. Some get so motivated that they join Buckner on a mission trip to deliver shoes and see the ear-to-ear grin on a child’s face for themselves.
In countries where dusty, rocky roads are plenty and financial means are not, a good pair of shoes can make a world of difference. For a child, it means the ability to attend school, stay healthy, and run and play like a child should. And while those reasons can be reasons enough, there are others that can mean even more to a child long-term.
In a location where Buckner has programs, a new pair of shoes opens the door for a connection to a Family Hope Center, where a child and his or her family are welcomed into new possibilities, a world that can equip mom and dad with parenting skills, that can provide job training, that helps the children with homework, and takes a holistic approach to improving the life of the family. Beyond that, it connects the family to Bible study classes and the hearing of the gospel – life transformation at its best.
If you and your church are interested in hosting a Shoe Drive that can change a child’s, and even a family’s trajectory, call me at 214-758-8106, or better yet, register your church and you’ll get sent a packet of information on how to execute a successful drive.
I’ve heard it said that churches are the hope of the world. If that’s true, then help us spread some of that hope in the form of shoes for children.
Written by Gilbert Montez, director of church engagement for Buckner International.