More than Shoes and Socks
International nonprofit Samaritan’s Feet is well-known for providing shoes to children and vulnerable people around the world. During a special week in February, they turned their attention to their hometown of Charlotte.
With dozens of volunteers, Samaritan’s Feet brought shoes and socks to the women, children and seniors at the Salvation Army Center of Hope, as well as the men at the Adult Rehabilitation Center. As important as it is to have new sneakers and socks, it was something else that had an even bigger impact: each volunteer washed the feet of the guest and spent time in conversation and prayer.
“Just observing and walking around and seeing the smiles on people’s faces, the tears being shed, the opportunity that they have to pray with people—it means a lot. It shows that people care,” said Brent Rinehart, Director of Communications for The Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte. “I think when you’re going through some of the most difficult days of your life, just knowing that there is an army of support behind you is a really moving experience. I think you can see that on the faces of everyone who attended.”
Foot-washing, based on the example of servitude that Jesus showed his disciples in the Gospels, is a central component of shoe distribution events with Samaritan’s Feet.
“This symbolic gesture allows volunteers and recipients to have time and space for meaningful conversations—conversations that allow recipients to be seen and heard, no matter their circumstances, while also being shown dignity,” said Deborah Cox-Roush, Senior Program Manager for Samaritan’s Feet International.
Those conversations and prayers included physical needs, job situations, more permanent housing opportunities, and of course, praying for God to continue to work in their lives.
“Praying, conversing, providing a pair of shoes … these might seem like small acts, but they can make a world of difference in the lives of the families that we serve,” said Rinehart.
At the Center of Hope, children as young as 2 years old found joy in a new pair of bright-colored sneakers. And, seniors were able receive anti-slip, lightweight shoes to help prevent falls. At the Adult Rehabilitation Center, the men were able to receive athletic shoes and/or work boots.
“Our time together was filled with smiles, tears, and joy and we are so thankful we were able to serve in this community,” added Cox-Roush. “Samaritan's Feet was thrilled to partner with The Salvation Army in Charlotte, because both of our organizations understand the importance of serving both here at home and internationally. Shoes are needed everywhere, and Samaritan's Feet is on a mission this year to serve its 10 millionth person.”
“Ten million is a huge number. But, each represents an individual – like those they served here in Charlotte – made in God’s image with their own story,” added Rinehart. “We are grateful for the care and concern Samaritan’s Feet has for all of God’s children.”