“We give much needed shoes and we give them to children,” explains Rachel Wallis, director of Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls.
Though this program seems simple and concise, there is one catch: The shoes must be new. But why?
New shoes deliver quality.
In developing countries, children in poverty-stricken areas might only have one pair of shoes. Often, they are hand-me-downs, so they might not fit well or offer appropriate protection. Used shoes have already started to become worn out from the previous owner, so they typically don’t last as long. New shoes give protection that used shoes cannot provide. A new pair of shoes given to a vulnerable child, sized correctly, promotes physical health and healthy self-esteem. Giving new shoes to vulnerable children is a gift that lasts. Quite simply, new shoes will last longer and serve better than used shoes.
New shoes maximize resources.
Sending shoes or goods internationally can have its challenges. All donated shoes must go through customs in each country, just like when people travel internationally, and the requirements are often strict. Buckner aims to do everything in its power to make sure the shoes pass easily through customs so they can be delivered directly to the children who need them.
If donated shoes were used instead of new, U.S. Customs would require fumigation to remove bacteria and bugs prior to packing. This process would be expensive, time intensive and require designated space. New shoes eliminate this step entirely.
Buckner strives to be a good steward of resources. Shipping the best materials possible reduces expense and speeds up delivery. New shoes provide a better return on investment toward our end goal.
New shoes build value.
The children to whom Buckner gives shoes rarely have many earthly possessions. Their faces light up as Buckner mission trip participants wash their feet and place a fresh, new pair of shoes on them. Each pair includes a note with a prayer, Scripture or other encouragement. The children feel special because someone chose and delivered a new gift just for them. Many times, children are as excited about the notes as they are about the shoes. Their smiles and appreciation need no translation. New shoes and the care expressed in a simple note can speak volumes to a child’s inherent worth in Christ. Buckner feels that supplying new shoes to vulnerable children across the world demonstrates God’s pure and practical love.
“Shoes are such a universal thing,” Rachel says. “There was a little boy in the Dominican Republic I put shoes on who was so cute. After those new Spider-man shoes were laced up, he started running around the room, saying, ‘Look how fast I’m going! I’m going so fast. Watch how fast I can go now!'”
Rachel says this moment resonated with her as she realized how such a simple gift can bring great joy to both the giver and recipient.
“Everybody can understand why people need shoes and how getting new ones can make you feel,” Rachel says. “This is especially true when you’ve never had anything to call your own.”
Written by Kayln Grider, a summer intern with Buckner Communications.