Church joins effort to cover feet of the needy

November 29, 2009|By JULIE E. GREENE

HAGERSTOWN -- According to Shoes4Unity, more than 1.5 billion pairs of shoes lie idle in American closets, while more than 300 million children around the world go without shoes.

A small Washington County-based congregation is trying to make a dent in those big numbers by collecting shoes to donate to those in need.

"Everybody has excess," said John Gamble, 66, of Greencastle, Pa. Gamble and his wife donated three pairs of shoes Sunday as he attended a service at Unity of Hagerstown at the Civil Air Patrol building behind Nick's Airport Inn, north of Hagerstown.

Unity of Hagerstown is part of the Association of Unity Churches, which is partnering with the nonprofit Soles4Souls in the Shoes4Unity shoe drive, said Sandy Boyer, a teacher and leader with the local congregation.


The Association of Unity Churches' goal is to collect and distribute 525,600 pairs of shoes to people in need in 2010, according to project literature. That would equal distributing one pair of shoes per minute.

Ann Sears, 67, of Waynesboro, Pa., said she collected shoes ahead of time by telling friends what the church was doing.

"I'm really excited about the whole thing," said Sears, who brought in seven pairs of shoes, including high heels and sneakers.

Part of the effort was to go shoeless for the day to experience what that's like, Boyer said.

Several congregation members brought donated shoes in bags so they could wear the shoes on their feet, since the tile floor was cold.

Boyer and her husband, Doug Lundgren of Brunswick, Md., went barefoot just before services started.

Cathy Hansen, 52, of Fayetteville, Pa., said she would try going shoeless. She brought a pair of gently used brown loafers that she hadn't been wearing.

San Rogers, 68, of Hagerstown, was donating three pairs of shoes.

Unity of Hagerstown has a congregation of about 17 to 20 people from the Tri-State area, Boyer said.

"For a small group, I think we are very service-oriented," said Boyer, who donated a pair of burgundy pumps to the shoe drive.

Anyone who wants to donate new or gently used shoes to the drive may drop them off at the church on Sundays between 10:30 a.m. and noon.

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