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Reporter finds courage to help others

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
March 23, 2012 at 7:02 p.m.
Updated March 23, 2012 at 10:24 p.m.

Malawian men line up to be fitted for shoes donated by the Victoria Barefoot Sunday event in 2011.

I remember how nervous I was to contact the Rev. Palmer Chinchen about organizing Barefoot Sunday a year and a half ago.

I was sitting in Starbucks, sipping coffee, anxiously clicking my pen on the table as I stared at Palmer's Facebook page on the computer.

Was I really about to send a stranger an invitation to fly to Victoria to help me organize a citywide charity event I wasn't even sure I could pull off?

I had lived in Victoria for only three months at the time, so I was unsure how anyone would respond to a nobody journalist attempting to rally the support of her new hometown - and an Arizona pastor - to collect 1,000 pairs of shoes for some of the most impoverished people in the world.

A few weeks earlier, I somehow stumbled upon Palmer's personal website and clicked a link labeled "Barefoot Sunday."

After clicking the link and reading the website, I was captivated by Palmer's invitation to collect shoes for people living in countries too poor to own shoes. About half of the world's population walks barefoot every day, he said.

I clicked a video link attached to the page and watched as some of his church members rode motorcycles through remote Liberian villages, donating shoes to the people there.

The distributed shoes were collected during a Barefoot Sunday event at Palmer's church in Chandler, Ariz., earlier that year.

While it's hard to consider that a pair of old shoes could really impact the betterment of humanity, the beautiful reality is those donations likely saved lives and changed lives in ways we may never fully understand.

Barefoot Sunday returns this year. For details, see the Faith section story here.

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