Texas Baptists give Valley children a skip in their step

Dulce Luevanos’ seven children ranging in age from 5- to 17-years-old receive new shoes as they head back to school. “These shoes are an incredible financial blessing,” she said. “I didn’t know how I was going to get all of the kids ready for school, but now that they has new shoes we can put that money towards purchasing their uniforms.” Luevanos is a single mother who has been receiving aid from Buckner Penitas Community Transformation Center since April, but she also is very involved in giving back to Buckner and her community. She even has earned enough volunteer points to receive a house built by Buckner volunteers.

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More than 650 Rio Grande Valley children received new shoes recently when 54 volunteers from 12 churches delivered new shoes from Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls, collected at the Texas Baptist Family Gathering in San Antonio.

buckner riogrande tying400Shoes for Orphan Souls volunteers Brandon and Sherry Ross from Boerne team up to make sure all the children they encounter know they are loved and walk away with a pair of shoes. (Buckner Photos)Texas Baptists donated 2,100 pairs of shoes and 978 pairs of socks. Many were distributed to South Texas children in some of the nation’s poorest counties. The rest went to children in Honduras, Peru and the Dominican Republic.

Javier Perez, manager of missions and humanitarian aid for Buckner in the Rio Grande Valley, helped coordinate the shoe distribution in the Valley at a middle school.

“From beginning to end, it was such an eye-opening experience to watch God work through those who were faithful to answer his call,” he said.

“Starting with each pair of shoes donated by churches at the Texas Baptist Gathering, to distribution by the volunteers representing churches from across Texas, hundreds of children will start this upcoming school year with a sense of pride not only because of their new shoes, but because they were affirmed and reminded of their value in Christ.”

Churches from as far as Perryton, in the Texas Panhandle, and Uriah, Ala., helped with the event.

buckner riogrande250Alexis Tuberville from Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Uriah, Ala., helps 4-year-old Edwin get fitted into a new pair of light-up sneakers shoes just in time for the start of preschool.Alexis Turberville, 15, from Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Uriah met Edwin, a 4-year-old boy who was “on top of the world” because he was starting preschool in the fall, she said. Later, when Edwin’s mother told her about their hardships, she realized the impact a new pair of shoes made in his life.

“The gift of shoes may not seem like a lot, but one pair was everything to these kids,” Alexis said. “The excited smiles and tight hugs around my neck reminded me there is always more that I can do to help the less fortunate—even through the simple gift of my time and shoes.”

The mission of Shoes for Orphan Souls hit home for Noe Hernandez, Buckner volunteer and store manager for a building-supply center in Mission.

“I worked as a migrant worker in my youth and distinctly remember receiving my first pair of new shoes from a service group,” Hernandez said.

“Those shoes changed my life, because they gave me confidence and a sense of empowerment. It is because of this same desire I saw in the children’s eyes we served that I am already signed up to help again next year.”

Last year in the Rio Grande Valley, Buckner served almost 60,000 people through community programs at the Buckner Family Hope Center in Penitas, Services to At-Risk Youth, Buckner National Missions and Rio Grande Children’s Home.

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