AGWC’s ‘Soles for Missions’ helps poverty stricken countries

Published 2:28 pm Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Bags of shoes are loaded into the back of Pastor Keven Blankenship’s truck for the first ever ‘Soles for Missions’ fundraiser at Amazing Grace Worship Center in Alabaster. (Contributed)

Bags of shoes are loaded into the back of Pastor Keven Blankenship’s truck for the first ever ‘Soles for Missions’ fundraiser at Amazing Grace Worship Center in Alabaster. (Contributed)

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Staff Writer

Amazing Gace Worship Center in Alabaster is helping people in impoverished nations to earn an income by establishing the first ever ‘Soles for Missions’ fundraiser.

They are asking for people to donate shoes that will eventually go to an organization that sells the shoes at an extremely low price to shoe businesses throughout 14 poverty stricken countries. Those businesses in return have the opportunity to make an income for their family.

“This is the first year we are doing this, and the goal was to help spread the love of Christ,” said church organizer Genia Blankenship. “This is a great opportunity for our church to come together in unity. We usually do our best work in the church when we all come together.”

The fundraiser started at the beginning of August and is continuing through October. Blankenship said the church has already reached its first goal, which was to accumulate 100 bags of shoes in 30 days.

Each of those bags has 25 pairs of shoes, meaning in one month they have raised a total of 250 pairs of shoes. Their overall goal is to receive a total of 300 bags before the fundraiser ends.

“We can all say that we want to help people, but getting out and actually doing it is what makes the difference,” Blankenship said.

Donors can drop off shoes from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day except Friday at the church, which is located at 949 U.S. 31 in Alabaster. Donors can also drop off at several other churches and drop off points throughout Chilton and Shelby counties.

“We wanted to reach out beyond just our church and get involved with other churches and schools as well,” Blankenship said.

One of those locations is Jemison Middle School, who decided to help out with the cause.

“There are so many people right here in our community with needs, but we felt it was important to show there are other people outside of our country who need things that we take for granted,” said Jemison Middle School Counselor Julie Lawrence.

The school started their fundraising efforts on Monday, Aug. 29, and has already received an outside donation of 100 pairs of shoes and has filled up two additional boxes from student donations.

“This teaches them compassion for others,” Lawrence said. “We have some kids that might feel shy or don’t think they have much to give, but even if they don’t have much, this gives them the chance to give away something they may have outgrown or that just isn’t useful anymore. Those things can be useful to somebody else trying to make a living or find a pair of shoes to wear in the morning.”

The school will continue to take donations through Sept. 9, and students can bring shoes with them to school to drop off. If there is anybody that wants to donate from outside the school they are welcome to come by and drop them off as well.

“There are no prizes involved with this, so the kids who are donating shoes are doing it from the good will of their hearts, they truly want to help other people,” Blankenship said.

Jemison High School heard about the cause from the middle school, and as of Tuesday, Aug. 30 they also decided to start taking donations.

“It’s crazy to hear that something as small as flip flops can make such a big difference in someone’s life, but they do,” Blankenship said. “I heard a story recently at a conference I was attending where a man from Africa gave a speech saying how excited they were for small things like this.”

Blankenship said any kinds of shoes people want to give away are welcome, and they will take anything and everything.

“We refer to it as a hand-up not a handout,” she said. “This teaches people to be aware that we are a very blessed nation, which we shouldn’t feel bad about, but at the same time we should take the resources we have and share them with people that are less fortunate than us.”