By all accounts, April 6 was a normal day on campus as students trotted across grass, dirt, sidewalks and gravel-covered parking lots to their classes. For some, however, one thing was missing– shoes.
Unfortunately for many children around the world, shoelessness is a reality for more than just one day a year, so student athletes and the Student Government Association partner together with Hope for the Hungry to provide footwear for more than 60 orphans in Haiti.
Sole to Soul was started three years ago to raise both awareness and the money to purchase shoes for children. One day each year students walk barefoot all day as a reminder to pray for the Haitians.
They are also given the opportunity to donate $10, which will go towards purchasing a pair of shoes that will be given to one of the orphans at Hope for the Hungry.
As Director of Children’s Ministries at Hope for the Hungry, Jen Sutton knows first hand the need for something so simple.
“It’s really important. We have to supply everything for these kids, and these are the shoes they will wear for the whole school year,” Sutton said.
The event raised almost $1,500, surpassing the goal set, and will not only be able to provide shoes, but also backpacks and school supplies for the children.
“Every one of our kids is going to have a new pair of shoes, so that’s really exciting,” Sutton said.
In addition to taking donations for shoes, Hope for the Hungry also sold bracelets for $2 each, and is urging students to support their child sponsorship program.
“The sponsorship program provides food, clothes and all of that stuff,” Sutton said. “We have a couple of students who are sponsoring kids now monthly, so that’s really cool.”
Freshman class president theology/philosophy major Caleb Humphrey helped organize this year’s event, and is thankful that so many contributed to the effort.
He said, “I’m really glad the students participated and helped out. I’m glad the school has the mind and the heart to do this.”
As well as aiding the Haitian children, Humphrey thinks Sole to Soul also helps students to remain mindful of how much they have, as well as the responsibility to give back.
“Just walking on hot gravel or hot pavement makes the student body aware that there are people who do not have it as good as we do,” Humphrey said. “God has blessed us, and it’s our job to take that blessing and return it.”
Junior Christian ministry major LW is one who left her shoes at home for the day, choosing to walk barefoot to show her support.
“If being a part of this day can raise awareness, prayer and money for children there, it is completely worth it,” she said.
LW believes that this is part of a biblical calling, citing Isaiah 58:7-8 as a reminder that God wants us to love by providing for the basic needs of others.
“Sole to Soul is a simple way to fulfill this,” she said. “And hey, what’s cooler than getting to walk around barefoot all day?”
All of the shoes purchased with the money raised will be given to the children at the Hope for the Hungry orphanages during two trips to Haiti planned for this summer.
Sutton is still looking for students to sign up to go on the trips, set for May and July.
“It’s such a blessing to be able to go and bring the shoes to the kids because they do get so excited about it,” she said. “The students who get to go on these trips will get to experience that.