FAIRFIELD — Most people take shoes for granted. It’s simple to pick up a pair in the store and go on with the day. But there are places where people don’t have shoes or the money to buy them.
Thrive Baptist Church in Fairfield recognized that need and is working on a fundraising program called Soles for Souls, with a goal of gathering 1,000 shoes and 3,000 socks for the impoverished children of Coeburn and Norton, Va.
Coeburn has a population of around 2,100. Norton has about 4,600 residents.
The idea to help find shoes and socks for needy children came to Anne Mincey after a Bible study session.
“I was asked, what is my passion and what am I doing about it? And I couldn’t answer those questions. I prayed about it and it came to me that about 25 years ago I wanted to help people in the Appalachian Mountains, but then life went on,” Mincey, the program’s coordinator, said.
She got on the computer and went to the North American Mission Board. The first thing that came up on the screen was the Appalachian area. With the pastor’s approval, the program began last year with a goal of sending 500 shoes to Virginia. The church met the goal.
This year has not gone as smoothly, and there have been a few setbacks.
“We are falling short of our goal,” Mincey said. “We had a garage sale where we raised $1,300 and we had a spaghetti feed where we raised $2,200. People have also donated and that has helped.”
The money has gone directly to buy shoes, socks and other hygiene items. The cost for shoes has been around $10 to $15 per pair, with small discounts from businesses.
“We have had to stop buying the shoes because the truck we were going to use fell through and the backup truck also won’t be available for shipping the shoes,” volunteer Victor Evans said. “So that means some of that money is going to have to go to shipping the shoes, and that means we are short on our goals.”
The shortfall is about 250 pairs of shoes, according to the Rev. Andy Bernard of Thrive Church.
Churches in Virginia and Massachusetts also have been collecting shoes, socks and other items that people need. Friends in Florida made 109 tote bags for the shoes to go into.
“The logistics for this project has just been crazy,” volunteer Mike Eston said.
The 10-member team is working hard to get everything ready for next month. Members will spend a week in Virginia, where they have a lot of charity work planned.
“This is my first mission,” volunteer Paula Evans said. “This project really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I have never asked anyone for donations before, but seeing these people so in need, I had to help.”
The hope is to reach the goal before July 25, which is when Mincey, Evans and his mother-in-law will leave for Virginia to distribute the footwear.
“We want to help provide 1,000 children with shoes and socks,” Mincey said.
Anyone interested in helping Soles for Souls can donate at tbcfairfield.org.
Reach Susan Hiland at 427-6981 or firstname.lastname@example.org.