Barefoot Sunday collects 3,500 shoes (Video)
April 21, 2013 at 8:01 p.m.
Updated April 20, 2013 at 11:21 p.m.
Glittering pink slipper shoes - those were Coryn Guerra's favorite, even though she no longer owns them.
Instead, the 5-year-old Faith Academy student donated them and stood barefoot at Faith Family Church, trying her best at tying a knot as she and others paired and packed shoes Sunday for the third annual Barefoot Sunday.
"It makes me happy," Coryn said, shyly. "I think it makes other people happy."
The goal this year was to send at least 2,000 pairs of shoes for children and adults in Malawi, Africa, said Advocate faith reporter Jennifer Preyss, who started the event her first year in Victoria.
Volunteers paired 3,500 shoes, bringing the total for three years to a little more than 15,000, Preyss said.
This year, Faith Family Church made it part of its Servolution project in which the church volunteers to help the community in different ways.
"This was the dream all along," Preyss said. "I wasn't sure I was going to have the energy to do it again this year. It's such an undertaking to do a project this size."
Preyss found backers who could help keep her passion for donating shoes to Malawi, and, before she knew it, the boxes and bag loads of shoes were coming into the event's 12 drop-off locations.
Susie Longoria sat among piles of shoes - light-up shoes, slip-ons, cowboy boots and flip-flops - as she continuously dove her hands into the pile, trying to match pairs.
Longoria, who has been with Faith Family for about 18 years, is helping for the first time with the event.
"The need is everywhere," Longoria said, as she tied together the laces of a men's pair of tennis shoes.
Longoria's mother, Ann Hernandez, 82, accepts clothing donations in the garage of her home. Every two months or so, she gives them away to people who need them in the community.
"That's just something that keeps her going," she said. "It helps her to be able to give at her age."
Mark Longoria, outreach pastor at the church, watched as people tossed shoes into separate piles.
Longoria helped spearhead the event this year for Preyss and Renegade Church, which hosted in 2012.
This year, the older donated shoes go to Malawi while the newly bought shows will go to Kidz Connection in Victoria, Longoria said.
"This is something she had on her heart, and this is definitely something we could tie into Servolution," he said. "What we're trying to do is get this culture of servitude and making our community just a place where we care about each other."
Ruthie Jones, Coryn's grandmother, likes the idea of serving the community more and more through Christ.
She has been helping through some of the other Faith Family events, like working at Christ's Kitchen.
The experience of going barefoot has made her realize just how good many have it.
"We sometimes think, 'I can't wear those shoes! They don't match,'" she said, humbled, "when all they want is just shoes so they won't get blisters."