Barefoot Sunday volunteers share Texas shoes with Africa (Video)

Camille Doty

April 28, 2012 at 10:03 p.m.
Updated April 28, 2012 at 11:29 p.m.

Chrissy Smolik had an allergic reaction to mistletoe walking barefoot outside her home.

She didn't want anyone else to suffer the same fate. The 26-year-old Victoria native collected shoes to help people in Africa.

"I have the option to wear shoes, they don't," she said. "It's important for people to have them."

Smolik spread the word through Facebook, collected shoes from family and friends, and cleaned out her own closet to get 80 pairs of shoes.

Close to 75 volunteers came to Renegade Church to collect and sort shoes for the Barefoot Sunday project.

The two-month-long regional shoe collection was intended to help people in Malawi, Africa, because many citizens are too poor to purchase shoes.

Victoria couldn't wait to bare it all on Sunday, so they hosted an event on Saturday.

There was a mix of sandals, shoes and cowboy boots that will take some of Texas to Africa.

A concert in the sanctuary helped keep everyone's spirits high. Attendees were asked to bring as many shoes as they could, and late sign a pledge to go barefoot the following day.

Organizer Jennifer Preyss felt inspired to take on this project because of her mission trip to the African republic.

During her 21/2-week tour, Preyss saw the extreme poverty and felt called by God to help.

"I've been burdened to help the needy," she said.

Preyss, who is the faith reporter at the Victoria Advocate, started the initiative last year with a goal to collect 1,000 pairs of shoes. She received 5,300.

Because of the overwhelming support she received from the community, Preyss aimed to get 5,000 this year and on Saturday she had 7,042 pairs.

"I feel exhausted, but I feel good," she said.

Preyss said sending the shoes to Malawi helps prevent people from getting some illnesses and gives them a sense of pride.

The 30-year-old Atlanta native plans to have the shoes delivered to Africa by August through the Children of the Nations International group.

Angela Mozisek volunteered for the first time this year and was eager to help. During her mission trips as a child, she realized how blessed she is.

Helping others brought her joy. With a huge smile, she said, "I just want to do whatever I can to help."

Mozisek's smile was contagious. Others around her grinned from ear-to-ear while breaking a sweat.

"We didn't have this many shoes last year," Ray Williams said, while he was sorting a pile of shoes.

Smolik agreed with Williams because there were more shoes and people to sift through them.

She said she felt great to contribute to the cause. "I can help put shoes on a nation," she said.



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