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.
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.
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.