By: Alicia Sands Lurry
Nearly 500 students from Charles L. Gideons and Thomasville Heights elementary schools on Thursday were treated to a special foot wash, a new pair of shoes and socks, and a backpack, thanks to a team of 60 volunteers from the international organization Samaritan’s Feet.
As part of their mission, Samaritan’s Feet aims to inspire hope and encourage students to do their best.
“This is a chance for volunteers to engage, kids to be blessed, and families to provide other necessities, and for us to provide the gift of shoes,” said T.J. Tolbert, sports marketing coordinator for Samaritan’s Feet. “This also breaks barriers and spreads love and encouragement. We’re focused on giving back, one pair of shoes at a time.”
Sponsored by BB&T Bank and organized by Kimberly Clark, an instructional coach at Gideons, the partnership with Samaritan’s Feet is designed to assist children in at-risk, underserved populations. BB&T’s donation of $20,000 supplied 308 pairs of shoes and socks for students at Gideons, and another 190 for students from Thomasville Heights.
Principal Jesse Berger said the shoes were a holiday treat for students.
“A lot of our parents don’t have the resources to give to their children,” Berger said. “It’s wonderful to see that our kids are excited to have shoes, and new shoes at that.”
Since its founding in 2003, Samaritan’s Feet has provided 6.5 million pairs of shoes in over 75 countries and 325 U.S. cities.
Fourth grader Kaleigh Tolbert couldn’t wait to show off her brand new pink sneakers.
“Pink is my favorite color,” said Kaleigh, proudly pointing to shoes. “It felt good when they washed my feet.”
Bruce Sharp, a Samaritan’s Feet volunteer, said the experience was humbling.
“Hopefully, the children will think about this experience and pass it on and do the same thing to help others,” Sharp said. “Above all, this reminds us that we’re all servants to one another, and that touching someone physically creates a sense of humanity.”