Samaritan’s Feet volunteers give away back-to-school shoes

Samaritan’s Feet volunteers give away back-to-school shoes

Aug. 19–CONCORD, N.C. — Lathan Rogers has five children headed to school this year and despite having a job, he said he still struggles to provide school supplies and shoes for his children.

With the economy still struggling, Rogers knows he’s lucky to have a job working maintenance, but also knows he can lose it at any time. He was laid off by two different companies in a year and had to find work elsewhere. His girlfriend is currently looking for work herself, struggling to find a job to add money to the family’s income.

“I work, but it’s not enough. At the end of the pay week, it’s not enough,” he said.

That’s why Rogers and others were grateful for the support of Samaritan’s Feet free shoe distribution at Caldwell Park on Saturday, which provided shoes for students from kindergarten through 12th grade as well as some school supplies.

The event was organized by Wilma King-Means, who is a member of Grace Lutheran Church and worked with Teresa Gray, director of family ministries at Epworth United Methodist Church.

“This is my first time with all five of my kids going to school this year, and school clothes and school supplies are very expensive. This is a lovely thing they are doing out here,” Rogers said. “They are really helping me out and helping my family out.”

Gray said that even though they weren’t supposed to start giving away shoes until 10 a.m., people were already lining up at 8 a.m., and organizers were giving away shoes as early as 9:30 a.m. She said that within the first hour they gave away about 250 pairs of shoes.

Members from the Upper Room Kids Child Development Center in Concord were also on hand, giving away boxes of groceries. More than 100 volunteers helped at Saturday’s event.

Gray said they are already planning for another shoe distribution for next August, and if they can raise the funds for one sooner they plan on trying to organize another event before then.

By 11:30 a.m., the group was already out of several sizes.

“There’s always a need,” Gray said. “And there will be lots of people here today getting shoes, but there will also be lots of people who didn’t make it that need shoes.”

Gray helped launch the shoe distribution in Cabarrus County after a mission trip to Mexico, where she was part of a shoe distribution program with Samaritan’s Feet.

Samaritan’s Feet was launched by Emmanuel Ohonme. Ohonme lived in Lagos, Nigeria as a little boy when a stranger from Wisconsin gave him a pair of tennis shoes. With that new pair of shoes for inspiration he went on to compete in activities in Africa. He eventually went on to play basketball which led him to attending school in America under a full basketball scholarship. Ohonme’s success grew over the years until he established Samaritan’s Feet, which started out by giving away shoes in Africa and has expanded to several countries, including America.

Now, more than 70,000 volunteers have joined to help provide shoes around the world, including the efforts here in Cabarrus County.

“This whole entire event was constructed by God,” Gray said. “And it’s because of him that we’ve even been able to do it. He has to get the glory for this. It’s not about us.”

Contact Michael Knox at 704-789-9133.