A different kind of giveaway
Yesterday my husband, sister & I along with countless other NewSpring volunteers (about 70 at our school) had the opportunity to give away shoes, socks, backpacks & school supplies to children at local elementary schools - it's one of the most incredible experiences I've had in awhile! All told, we gave away 1665 pairs of shoes to 4 different elementary schools - the school we went to here in Greenville had about 700 of those kids. The principal told us that 90% of the school's kids live at or below the poverty level.
The shoes were preordered from NewBalance and had been sorted according to grade & class - then each box also had a new pair of socks and a bag for them to carry the box home in. There was also a backpack for each child stuffed with some new school supplies. To see more of the behind-the-scenes work, check out this post. When we arrived at the school, we split into teams and then started with the fifth grade and worked our way down to kindergarten. It was such a moving experience! A few highlights:
- Several asked if they actually got to keep the shoes and take them home, or if they had to leave them at school - wow!
- My sis asked one girl what she wanted for Christmas (4th or 5th grade) and the girl said 'tennis shoes' then when Autumn slid the new shoe on her foot, the girl quietly said 'that feels so much better' - when Autumn asked her if her old shoes were too tight, she nodded yes.
- One little boy who was wearing a size 4 and signed up for a new size 4 but then had to be moved up to a size 6 to find a pair that really fit him.
- Seeing a little girl with a house key on a purple ribbon around her neck - didn't know that really still happened.
- A sweet little girl who was so excited to tell me her name who then wouldn't stop grinning from ear to ear when she looked at her new pink & gray shoes.
- A teacher who told us this was the only Christmas many of these kids would have.
- The kids who told us they were going to take their backpacks home and put them under the tree.
- The kindergarten boy that my sweet husband put new shoes on who looked to be carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Brad tried and tried to get a smile out of the boy, but it was almost like he had no emotion. Just before it was time for his class to go back, Brad got the little guy engaged in a game of 'high five' where he kept telling him...I know you can hit my hand harder than that...the little guy got into it and finally started to smile and enjoy himself while smacking Brad's hand. Very emotional for both of us!
It was definitely an incredible day that won't be soon forgotten by any of us who got to go and help. I'm already counting the days til we do it again next year! It is so exciting to be part of a local body that wants to reach out and minister to the community at large around us. Thanks so much to all the volunteers who gave up their time to go yesterday and to the countless others who gave $$ to make it possible - this definitely qualified as a "PRICELESS" experience! Merry Christmas!!