[caption id="attachment_4322" align="alignleft" width="500" caption="Ron and Rebecca Pyle used their wedding as a chance to affect children's lives."][/caption]
By Lauren Hollon Sturdy
Two Texas brides who love for Shoes for Orphan Souls almost as much as they love their new husbands turned their summer nuptials into an opportunity for their guests to be part of something bigger.
Taking a Risk
Amy Duncan, 25, spent her summer as a volunteer with Buckner in Guatemala after she graduated from Baylor in 2008.
“We did a shoe trip while I was there,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to work with orphans, and when I saw the need and saw what shoes meant to the kids, it just touched my heart. It’s just amazing how those children would line up for shoes. They have nothing.”
“I’ve always wanted to do a shoe drive since I got back from Guatemala,” Duncan said.
After she and her now-husband, Scott Stier, got engaged, they talked about trading in a traditional gift registry for a request for shoes.
[caption id="attachment_4323" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Photo courtesy of Allison Notgrass, Focal Point Photographics"][/caption]
She worried about what people would think of having a shoe drive instead of traditional wedding gifts. She also realized her wedding was a one-time event and that they would use the gifts they received for the rest of their married lives.
“In the end, my husband Scott and I wanted to start our lives out service-oriented, because that’s what marriage is,” Duncan said. “It’s about coming together and serving others and Christ for the rest of your life.”
Duncan said she and her husband were blessed beyond what they could have imagined, receiving all the things they needed to set up their home in several bridal showers in Duncan’s honor.
[caption id="attachment_4324" align="alignright" width="250" caption="Photo courtesy of Allison Notgrass, Focal Point Photographics"][/caption]
The shoe drive wedding reception was also a bigger blessing and a bigger hit with the guests than Duncan and her husband expected. Everyone loved having the opportunity to participate in ministry with their wedding gift.
“Little old ladies would come up to me in the weeks before the wedding and say, ‘I’ve got my shoes for the wedding!’ but it was shoes to give to the orphans, not to wear with their dress,” she said.
They collected 145 pairs of shoes at their reception, and several guests made donations to Shoes for Orphan Souls in the couple’s honor.
'Tis Better to Give
Rebecca Morton Pyle started planning her first wedding at 56.
“I had a great first half of my life,” she said. “It was never a life-or-death, ‘I have to get married’ situation. But I wanted a different second half of my life, so I intentionally sought out God’s choice.”
She found her husband, Ron Pyle, through eHarmony. She committed to spend six months using the website, and when she first set up her profile, Ron had just decided to take a break from using the site. They nearly missed finding each other completely; he didn’t log on again until her six months were almost up. The Lubbock couple dated for more than a year before they married in June.
“I went to Oaxaca last November on my first Shoes for Orphan Souls mission trip, and it just captured my heart,” she said. “When we were planning the wedding, we decided we didn’t need more stuff. We wanted to encourage generosity to a charity and we chose Buckner, so we decided to ask our guests to participate in a Shoes for Orphan Souls wedding shoe drive.”
They kept their wedding small and married in Lewisville, Texas, near Ron’s family. About 60 guests attended and 123 pairs of shoes were collected.
Scott Collins, vice president of communications for Buckner and a longtime friend of the bride, attended the wedding and spoke about the mission of Shoes for Orphan Souls at the reception.
“It was a traditional wedding in every way, except the reception,” Collins said. “It was a thrill to walk into the reception area at the wedding and see tables piled high with shoes. That Rebecca and Ron would give up wedding gifts in favor of gifts for orphan children says so much about them and their love for children.”
He picked up a zebra-striped pair of shoes from the collection table and told Pyle he would deliver them to a child in Kenya in July.
“When he sent me a picture of the girl who got that pair of shoes, I got goose bumps,” Pyle said. “It was an immediate gratification to see that photo and to be reminded that these are real people the shoes go to.”
“Because of this, other people have heard about Shoes for Orphan Souls from our guests telling the story to other people,” she said. “I think that’s so cool, because it’s not about me and Ron – it’s about the kids who need shoes and how we can help.”
To learn more about hosting a shoe drive, visit www.shoesfororphansouls.org.
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