Contribution deadline is Wednesday, Aug. 31.
Coordinated through Buckner International with a strong tie to the Cleveland and Bradley County area community, this heartfelt program last year netted 3,500 pairs of new footwear from our community alone. The endearing effort reached out to orphans and vulnerable youngsters globally.
Over the past few weeks our newspaper has brought home the stories of local residents — Shoes for Orphan Souls volunteers — who last fall traveled to the impoverished town of Oaxaca, Mexico, where an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 donated pairs of shoes were distributed to children in need within 5 1/2 days. It was a mission that came from the heart as evidenced by the mode of delivery.
Volunteers actually washed the children’s feet, and then fitted them with socks and shoes in order to assure a proper fit. In so very many cases, the old shoes being worn by some of the youngsters were little more than leather or cloth strands held together by tape, string or whatever means was available for keeping them together.
One volunteer, Mike Finnell, told our newspaper, “ ... A lot of the shoes we did see were falling off feet, wrong sizes, too small and the kids had been wearing them too long. There were holes in the toes and the soles that were taped up.”
These are the types of children Shoes For Orphan Souls will reach this year. Since its inception in 1999, the campaign has distributed more than 2 million pairs of new shoes in 70 countries. Bradley County coordinator Dave Whitaker launched this year’s local drive excitedly because on the opening day the campaign had already collected 1,100 pairs.
Last year, the Chattanooga region — which includes the Cleveland drive — donated more than 23,000 pair. Once the collections are completed, USExpress will transfer the footwear to Buckner International’s central warehouse in Dallas free of charge.
Local shoe donors are reminded the footwear should be new and of varying sizes. The local campaign is seeking a greater number of athletic shoes this year as well as shoes in larger sizes.
Community drop sites are marked by large Shoes For Orphan Souls signs.
Our newspaper, located at 1505 25th Street, serves as one such collection point. Passersby who don’t see our building from the road will surely see the two large signs prominently stationed in our front lawn.
Several collection points are accepting new shoes.
They include Community Hall Church, Gardner’s Market, His Witness Scents, Living Word Church, North Cleveland Church of God, SonRise Gymnastics, Southern Heritage Bank, T&L Baking Co., Church at Grace Point, Toyota of Cleveland, Homestead Lawn and Tractor, Whirlpool, Renaissance Salon and Spa, Cleveland Family YMCA, Westwood Baptist Church and Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church.
We urge strong support for this worthwhile mission whose objective is to comfort tired soles and strengthen forgotten souls of children living on the brink, and to warm the hearts of these same youngsters who deserve a fair chance in life.
We hope you will make your donations soon.