Thursday, June 05, 2008

65,000 Sandals Headed to Chicago

Flip-flops are a sure sign of summer.

Soles4Souls brought a piece of the season to the Chicago Southland Tuesday in the form of 65,000 pairs of thong sandals.

Invincible Kids Accepting Nothing Negative (IKANN), headed by Thelma Southall, worked to connect local nonprofit agencies and churches with Soles4Souls, aided also by Kids in Distressed Situations, another children's aid organization.

Agencies will distribute the sandals to kids in need. For many, it will be their first new footwear in a long while.

"Shoes used to be one of the basics," said the Rev. Betty Harris, co-pastor of Cornerstone House of God in Harvey. "Now it's gas for the parents to get to work to make money and buy food. Kids' needs kind of get pushed to the side."

She said sporting new clothing offers kids a feeling of self-confidence. If they feel like they deserve new shoes, they start to wonder what else they can attain, Harris said.

Jewel Pugh, who runs Back-to-Basics, a Matteson-based mentoring program for girls ages 12 to 15, said she planned to take "as many shoes as they'll let me."

"So many kids can't afford basic things."

She said she'll also bring shoes for distribution to her church, Greater Mount Hermon Church of God in Christ in Chicago Heights.

The Rev. Reginald Hall is used to seeing families in need at Abundant Life Deliverance Church in Matteson, where he's co-pastor with his wife, the Rev. Vickie Hall.

The couple will give shoes to members of its congregation, along with other community residents, at one of many free goods distributions.

"With all the things parents have to worry about, shoes sometimes get left off the list," Reginald Hall said.

His wife added that might be because "shoes cost a fortune" and parents simply can't afford it.

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