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Barefoot Sunday shoes are on the way to Malawi

By BY JENNIFER PREYSS - JLPREYSS@VICAD.COM
March 8, 2013 at midnight
Updated March 7, 2013 at 9:08 p.m.

Jennifer Preyss

Last summer, with the help of a dear friend, I loaded up a Penske truck with approximately 8,000 shoes donated from the 2012 Barefoot Sunday event and drove across country to Orlando, Fla.

It was a two-day drive to the Sunshine State, but somehow, we filled the long hours with conversation about God and friends and relationship successes and failures. We laughed and cried and sang loudly to (sometimes) inappropriate music.

But it was an adventure, and we knew at the end of the drive, a Children of the Nations warehouse was awaiting our delivery.

The shoes from South Texas were sorted and boxed in recent months.

And Saturday, the shoes were finally loaded by more volunteers in a 40-foot container - that's about the size of a semitruck - and driven about eight hours north to Savannah.

On Friday, they'll be loaded onto an even larger vessel bound for Mozambique in a few weeks.

My COTN organizer, Laura Brost Cook, who also helped us unload the truck when we arrived in Orlando, said the shoes will set sail April 8 and arrive in Mozambique on April 25. They will then be ground transported to Lilongwe, Malawi, - a two-week journey - and distributed at the villages a few days later.

Victoria's Barefoot Sunday event, and those throughout the community who have donated more than 12,000 pairs of shoes in two years, are making an impact on lives and hearts in many parts of the world, it seems.

"Seeing the shoes help fill up that huge container was so exciting, especially knowing how far each pair had already come to get to Africa," said Brost, discussing the dozens of volunteers who gave up their Saturday to load thousands of donated shoes in a giant container. "I know when our Malawi staff open up this container when it arrives, they will be thrilled to hand out shoes to the children and teenagers in the schools and villages where Children of the Nations does ministry."

After I hung up the phone with Brost, I was reminded again why it's important to give and the impact that one idea, one gesture of selflessness, can make on lives around the globe.

And it's inspiring to know that even when Barefoot Sunday ends in Texas, it continues in Florida, then Georgia and overseas. It's a long process - in this case, almost a year-long process - involving many volunteers both domestic and abroad who give up their time and money to help strangers in foreign countries.

It's the best humanity can offer, in my opinion, and it's a privilege to take part. For all of your efforts, I sincerely thank you. Your shoes are on the way, Victoria. And what an impact they will make.

Jennifer Preyss is a re porter for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535 or jlpreyss@vicad.com

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