By Jenny Pope
MISSION, Texas – Volunteers from the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas placed new shoes on the feet of more than 700 children in the Rio Grande Valley on Saturday, Aug. 18 as part of a coordinated Missions Day with Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls®, the largest humanitarian aid project of Buckner International.
In addition to new shoes, children received free haircuts from stylists at Mission Beauty College, and backpacks with school supplies donated by the Trull Foundation, just in time for the new school year.
“This was a huge, I mean HUGE, success,” said Marissa Saenz, parental involvement strategist with La Joya ISD. “We went knocking on the doors and made home visits to every family and the smiles on these families when we told them that we had them some tennis shoes … they couldn’t believe it. It will help them out for school.
“It’s a blessing in disguise. We are very happy. Our families are very needy and we are really very happy to partner with Buckner,” she said.
The shoes distributed were collected by members of the Hispanic Baptist Convention and given to Buckner as part of their annual missions project.
“I was astonished when I learned that of the 10 poorest counties in the United States, five of them are here in Texas,” said Jesse Rincones, president of the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas. “And of the entire poverty population in our state, 53 percent is Hispanic. This is our state and these are our people; we must do something about it. Collecting shoes is a simple thing that everyone can do to make a difference in a child’s life.”
Fourteen volunteers from Iglesia Bautista Emmanuel in Midland, Texas drove 12 hours to serve children in the Valley for this one-day event. Two of those volunteers were Greg and Gloria Galvan, both retired, who also helped to collect shoes for the children earlier in the year.
“We have been blessed [by this experience]," said Greg. “You come and you see all the need that there is with these kids and you want them to have a future because they are the future for tomorrow. It’s how they perceive life and how we show them what life should be that’s going to make them good people and want to follow God. That’s why we do this.”
Gloria said watching the children receive their new shoes and backpacks put tears in her eyes. “My heart goes out to them. God is with them. I want them to know that there is hope. God is always there for them and God is hope.”
To learn more about Buckner International’s ministry to vulnerable children, please visit www.buckner.org. To learn more about Shoes for Orphan Souls, please visit www.buckner.org/shoes.
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