Shoes, no entry

MATTHEWS – Students, staff and parents at Carmel Christian School recently spent some time with cold feet, raising awareness and bringing support to the school’s annual shoe donation drive.

(Above) Carmel Christian Middle School girls basketball coach Allison Kinehart with her team.

(Above) Carmel Christian Middle School girls basketball coach Allison Kinehart with her team.

Coaches, parents and students were asked to take their shoes off at the door at the Tuesday, Nov. 19, girls and boys middle school basketball games, spending an evening in the lives of men, women and children supported by Samaritan’s Feet, a nonprofit working to help the nearly 300 million people without shoes around the world.

“It’s not just a basketball game, but it’s focusing on something other than ourselves,” Karen Bradbury, the school’s athletic director, said. “We hope to show the financial proceeds for the organization are going to a good cause, but also to show some families don’t have the opportunities to have shoes.”

The basketball initiative helped kick off another season of giving at Carmel Christian, a school where service is in the fabric of the school’s mission. Though the school participates in community service projects year-round – working with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, A Child’s Place, Hemby Children’s Hospital, the Special Olympics, the Charlotte Rescue Mission and Dove’s Nest and the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte – they give even more effort around the holidays to meet the needs of the community and beyond.

This year, in addition to participating in Samaritan’s Feet, the group is working with Carmel Baptist Church to donate 5,000 filled boxes for Operation Christmas Child, is collecting gently used or new books for local nonprofit Promising Pages, and from the beginning of the school year, students have been collecting spare change and money donations for what they call the “Baby Jesus Gift.” That money will be split between Samaritan’s Feet and support for two children through Gethsemane Garden Christian Centre, an organization that provides education for children in Kenya affected by “poverty, disease and hopelessness.”

“I think it’s important for our students to get outside our walls,” Kay Brinkley, the school’s director of fine and performing arts and missions, said. “Sometimes, we live in a bubble, and it’s important (for students) to see there are needs outside of themselves, and we want to start them young. Serving can change their lives.”

The school donated about 250 pairs of shoes to Samaritan’s Feet last year, and seventh- and eighth-grade students had the opportunity to distribute the shoes in Charleston, S.C., and Washington, D.C.

Over the last two weeks, Brinkley said she’s heard students talking and collaborating, working to find innovative ways to encourage friends, family and neighbors to donate shoes to the cause. Samaritan’s Feet has provided a lot of helpful information and is clear about their mission, Brinkley said, adding typically, once people hear about the organization’s purpose, they are willing to help in some way.

“I have been amazed over the years. This is our ninth year doing it. Whenever we do something school-wide in terms of donation, it seems to always be more than the prior year,” Brinkley said about the number of donations expected this year. “Just in this small act, if we look in all of our closets, I bet almost all of us have more than one pair of shoes.”

That’s why it’s important to ensure some people have at least one pair of shoes, Brinkley added.

Contact the school at 704-849-9723 for more information on how to help with Carmel Christian School’s outreach this holiday season by donating shoes for Samaritan’s Feet, books for Promising Pages, boxes of goodies for Operation Christmas Child or money to benefit any of the school’s outreach projects. Find more information on specific projects at the organizations’ websites.

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