I would say our story really began in 2013. I cleaned out my children's closets and I was carrying around 2 large bags of shoes and clothes in my trunk that I still had not dropped off at the local donation center. With the greatest of intentions I had put those bags in my car at least 2 weeks earlier, but as single mom life has it, especially when you live in a rural area like I did at the time, donation centers are actually a planned trip!
On this particular day, my life as an itinerant teacher was calm. I was not late between my schools and noticed those bags when I exited my car. After my lesson with my student, I had some time to stop by the nurse and ask if she could use the clothes for extras. She welcomed the donation. I thought I had won the jackpot because it saved me a trip to town! When I returned to my car and pulled out the clothes, I remembered the shoes. I still had an entire bag of shoes! Feeling slightly defeated because my trunk wasn't empty yet, but glad that the clothes were going to used for a good purpose, I headed back inside.
We chatted for a moment as I dropped off the clothes and I mentioned I had the bag of shoes in the car. She started to cry. I immediately thought I had insulted her somehow. I explained that it is no big deal. I can run to town to drop these off sometime or they can just stay in my trunk a little longer. I had no idea what was going on. She stopped me and said, "No, that isn't it at all. We desperately need shoes all of the time." She proceeded to tell me stories of children who came to school with no shoes and how they were not prepared to handle that. Not ONE child but CHILDREN....
This changed my donation routine. I started donating all of my children's clothes and shoes to the schools I served. I started asking my friends to donate their children's clothes and shoes to school nurses. Before I purged, I asked the nurses, "What is your greatest need?"
In 2015, I was still traveling and loving my job. I was still cleaning out my children's closets and donating to the nurses. Each school had a different vibe, a different atmosphere and different needs. Then one day everything changed again....
One particular day, I rushed into one of my schools and the air was light. The bliss was tangible. I slowed down to soak it in....the parents in the office and the office staff were gleeful. I paused as I signed in and inquired about the specialness of the day. One of the ladies said, "A church adopted our school. All of our children are getting new shoes TODAY!" Her excitement was contagious.
I walked down the hallway and began to see the children. There was quiet, eager chatter creating a hum and the children were beaming. There was a glow.
I made it to my student and he had not yet had his turn to go receive his new shoes. I rescheduled.
As I left the building and the overflowing joy behind, I spoke to God in the quiet parking lot. I told Him, somebody needs to do that in Pelion.
Before I made it to my car, it was very much impressed on me that I should do it. As every person in their right mind would do, I said absolutely not. I do not have time for that. I tried to carry on my day, but God would not let it go. Matthew West's song played each time I got in my car...you know the one..."Do Something."
That song wasn't playing on the radio often anymore. BUT that day...that day, I heard it at least 5 times in the next 3 hours. Then I ended my workday and arrived home. I continued prayed about the shoes. I made a deal with God because again...that is just what you do! I said, "If the principal agrees and if my church backs me, I will do it." Well, God...
Read more of our story here.
SOLE Stepping is all about the socks and the shoes: hundreds of shoes and thousands of shoes! SOLE Stepping provides new socks and shoes to our sponsored elementary schools with a purpose of inclusion. If you attend one of our schools, we want YOU to have a pair of shoes! Without a doubt, we want our children to wear appropriate shoes for school and the weather. We want our children to wear correctly sized shoes, so their growing feet are well protected. We want our children to be comfortable. We want our children to run, jump, and play.
In our very own communities, our children come from a wide variety of backgrounds with certain commonalities. Our communities are historically close-knit. We support one another and unite to meet the needs of others. All of our children need us today. Our children need to know that they are important, valued, and treasured.
Our children are navigating the tumultuous waters with small beacons of light to guide their way. SOLE Stepping is such a light in our community. The volunteers at SOLE Stepping are here, not by chance, but by love. Our volunteers are here to serve, shine their light, and wear their hearts on their sleeves. Our children see this. They know this and they feel this. You see, when a child is given a gift of a new pair of shoes, no matter what burdens are on their small shoulders, for a moment, even if brief, they are a child without a care. They are a child that can run fast, jump high, and smile. They are a child that is poured in to...a child given hope...a child given unconditional love... a child given encouragement.
Like I said, SOLE Stepping is all about the shoes. Without shoes, where would they go?
Our children are sponsored by individuals, local community groups, church partners, business partners, and grants. We gladly accept donations of new sneakers and new athletic socks and monetary donations. All funds donated are used to purchase socks and sneakers unless otherwise designated.
All shoe sizes are accepted since our children range in age from 3 years old to 12 years old.
Shoes are collected and prepared off-site. On the selected December Distribution date, all shoes are transported to the school. Once at the school, our team of volunteers are paired with students until all the students receive their new shoes. We support our sponsored schools throughout the year. If a need arises, the schools contact us to fit specific children.