Shoes for Souls
Writer / Kris Parker • Photographer / Forrest Mellott
After a shoe collection and distribution last Christmas, the leadership of Bluff Creek Christian Church felt compelled that this was an on-going need in the community they should continue to serve. As a result, February 6, this 200-member congregation launched Shoes for Souls.
FOR THE WANT OF A SHOE
Shoes for Souls is a “shoe pantry” located in Johnson County, and at present is the only known one in the area. Current statistics show that over one-third of school-age children in Johnson County qualify for Free or Reduced Lunches. And while there are multiple food pantries in the county to serve them and their families, Shoes for Souls is the only opportunity specifically for children and teens to receive a new pair of shoes each season.
Up to four times a year, families can take advantage of the pantry and get a new pair, or like-new pair, of shoes. With every pair of shoes that walk out the door, they are accompanied by a new a pair of socks.
After praying about the opportunity, Shaun Farmer offered to lead this innovative ministry, but he does not take credit for all the work. “There are five of us on the team,” he said. “And there are several other congregation members who have given of their time on a Saturday to work in the pantry.”
Serving in the pantry is not the only way people can support this cause. Shoes for Souls gladly accepts donations of new and gently-used shoes, as well as new socks. And while they accept all kinds of shoes, they have primarily focused on the more-versatile tennis shoe. “Our thinking on that is that tennis shoes can be used in any season,” said Farmer. “Other types of shoes aren’t as practical.”
Thus far, the ministry has received donations from multiple sources, but they are always able to accept more. As Shoes for Souls began taking shape in its early stages, they received an outpouring of shoes from their own congregation. Additionally, Walmart has given a sizable donation, as has The Blue Mile; The Finish Line provided a lot of socks.
One team member, Rebecca Finlay, commented on how quickly the ministry came together. “It was amazing to see the response from our church congregation and local businesses who donated shoes! It helped me see that something special was happening with this ministry…and with very little overhead costs to get it started!” she said.
ON THE RIGHT FOOT
Not only concerned with shoes and socks, another need Shoes for Souls seeks to fill is through its prayer ministry. When people visit the pantry, they are asked if they have any prayer needs; the volunteers offer to pray with them there or come to their homes to pray privately.
Finlay, as the prayer coordinator for Shoes for Souls, describes her place on the team. “My role involves seeking out people who will pray for the ministry and sending specific shoe pantry prayer needs to the church members,” she explained. “I felt like God was leading me to this ministry after praying about it and considering the type of impact it could make in the community. I realized that not only could we provide for those who are in need physically and help lessen a financial burden (because new shoes for children, especially multiple children, can be expensive), but we could also meet a spiritual need as well.”
WALKING IN SOMEONE ELSE’S SHOES
“I think the community should know that we truly care about providing for the needs of our community, and want those who have a need to feel like they can come without judgment. We want to provide an environment where people can feel comfortable, accepted and loved,” said Finlay. “We have over 500 pairs of shoes just waiting to be worn! Since we are just getting started, our biggest challenge has been spreading the word around the community to let everyone know that we are here. We know that there is a need, and I think we have felt like God has recently been opening doors for us to utilize resources around the community to get the word out.”
Shoes for Souls is open each Saturday morning from 9-12. Parents, grandparents, guardians and foster parents may all take advantage of this opportunity; teachers may also come to Shoes for Souls to receive shoes for students whom they notice have a need. Requirements to receive shoes are a photo ID and a form that must be filled out at each visit. Families can visit the pantry up to four times a year.
New and like-new shoe donations can be dropped off at the Bluff Creek Christian Church, Building B between the hours of 8 and 4, Monday thru Friday. Bluff Creek Christian Church is located at 6286 W. State Road 144 Greenwood, In 46143. For more information, call 422-5718 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.