At Buckner Parkway Place, a Buckner senior living community in Houston, residents can expect to find delicious dining, community with others, holiday parties and more. But John Bender, chaplain at Parkway Place, decided six years ago he wanted to also offer an way for residents to impact a ministry of Buckner. Bender and staff began offering a shoe drive to benefit Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls®.
“Even though most residents here are independent, they don’t drive or go to church offsite anymore,” Bender shared. “They’ve been taught to give all their lives and they’ve given sacrificially, and not just with their finances. They’ve given with their time and energy. They can feel like they have lost those opportunities.”
Creating an opportunity to purchase a pair of shoes, or to donate, gives that level of independence and decision-making back to the residents of Parkway Place. While they can donate to the drive all year long, March was the month they emphasized it. Bender set out with a goal of providing 125 pairs of shoes to Shoes for Orphan Souls.
A few years ago, Bender had the chance to visit the Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid and see the shoe inventory. He saw the impact of his residents’ gifts. But he also saw the shoes that were needed most.
“The size three girls’ shoes storage were full. The size five and six boys’ shoes were full,” Bender said with a tear. “But, what about size 11? The sizes 10, 11 and 12 were lacking. And sometimes little boys or girls need a size 11 too.”
He shared that experience with his residents a few years ago and every year so far, a couple donates a size 11 pair of shoes. This year, they received five pairs for that size.
“I’d like to continue to see this momentum and excitement build,” he said.
The momentum of the shoe drive is even encouraging Parkway Place associates to jump into the drive too. With a joint effort between residents and associates, they exceeded their goal this year and donated 149 pairs of shoes.