Back to school bash a success
As the old saying goes,“Out with the old, and in with the new.” A long line for the North Carolina Assembly of God Church's Back-to-School shoe distribution formed before the 9 a.m. start time on Saturday morning at the Wayne Proffitt Agricultural Center. Parents and grandparents brought children of all ages to be fitted for brand new shoes. Many kids left carrying their old shoes and proudly strutted out wearing their new kicks.
Between the more than 2,000 pairs of new shoes that were available, three local churches, 60 volunteers and countless hours of preparation, the event went off without a hitch. According to Mary Ritter, Regional Women's Ministries Director, 800 registered to take advantage of the distribution.
Approximately 404 children were fitted for a pair of shoes, according to Ritter's calculations. “It was very rewarding,” Ritter said. “We were very pleased with the help from the churches and the response of the community.”
Free popcorn and drinks were handed out and a clown under the main pavilion entertained the kids while people waited in line. Every child also received a $5 gift certificate to the Fun Factory. The volunteers were at the fairgrounds at 7 a.m. and, after the cleanup, did not leave until around 2 p.m.
Ritter said that there were seven “Sole Celebrations” from May to July to collect the shoes that were distributed and that several Friday afternoons at the main office were spent sorting the shoes.
The remainder of the shoes not distributed Saturday were donated to the Rural Compassion Ministry warehouse in Missouri. Rural Compassion is a disaster relief organization that has done outreaches like this before. Over the course of four years, Rural Compassion has given away more than 30,000 pairs of brand new shoes.
A lot of organizations do back-to-school distributions for school supplies but not necessarily clothing.
“We wanted to do something different so we focused on the shoes,” Ritter commented. Ritter explained that school-aged children have growth spurts and sometimes they have a pair of shoes but they do not fit properly, and sometimes the parents cannot afford to go out and buy a new pair. Many of the volunteers said they enjoyed working on the project as much as the children enjoyed receiving the shoes. “It was such a success and a blessing for the workers and the people receiving the shoes,” said volunteer Pam Raby from First Assembly of God. “I would like to see it again and other outreaches like it.” Raby also said that it would be a good ministry for the local churches to do a follow-up with the people that registered to find out if they have a home church, invite them to church, and see if there is any other way that the church can help them out.