Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Amazing 'Sole Sisters'

Here is a letter we received from a dedicated supporter in Saluda, SC. She and three of her friends, along with support from the community collected a staggering amount of shoes:

Dear Soles4Souls,
Sometime ago, I read an article about a group of women at a church collecting 309 pairs of shoes for Soles4Souls, and that presented a challenge for me. Surely, I thought, three of my friends and I could surpass that number. So with article in hand I approached my friends with the challenge, asking them to set a goal and we would strive for the highest one. They ranged from 50 pairs to 1200 pairs. We decided to collect for a month and our campaign kicked off on March 30 with a supper at St. Paul UMC in Saluda, SC. The admission price for the meal was at least one pair of shoes and we collected 215 pairs. From that time on, the Sole Sisters (Ann Forrest Watkins, Sandra K. Fulmer, Susan Trotter & Vicky Norrell) were on the move.

A staff member at Saluda Middle School read of our effort and contacted me to say that she was initiating a drive at the school, too. By the end of April, they had amassed over 1,000 pairs with the winning student bringing in 217 pairs.

We established 10 collection points in and around Saluda and made several pick-ups a week. After the garage and the side porch of two of the Sole Sisters were overflowing, one of the other sister’s husband agreed to let us use a portion of his warehouse for storage. Another of the sister’s husband mentioned the campaign to a woodworking friend of his and a sign was crafted and donated to us and was placed at the front of St. Paul to announce our progress.

Two area merchants, C.B. Forrest & Son of Saluda and Amick’s Shoe Shop in Batesburg , SC combined to donate over 500 pairs of new shoes. And the pile of bagged shoes at the warehouse grew ever larger. We had planned on delivering the shoes sometime in May. However a series of events conspired to delay us. Two family members of the sisters’ group passed away (a mother and a mother-in-law), another sister’s 86 year old mother was involved in an auto accident and sustained serious injuries and the fourth sister’s husband had to have a pacemaker and defibrillator operation just prior to her bout with cancer.

In spite of those dark days, we continued to collect and count the shoes. Then, as we were planning our mid September deliver to Roanoke , AL , the gasoline crisis struck in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, and we were concerned about its availability. Nevertheless on September 20th, with fuel donations from two different churches and the guarantee from another to cover any shortfall, the early morning darkness found us heading to Roanoke in a borrowed tandem pickup truck hauling a horse trailer filled with 10,027 pairs of shoes. The combined efforts of four determined Sole Sisters, countless residents of Saluda County , SC (with a population of less than 19,000), two wonderful shoe merchants and the giving of three churches had finally paid off. What a wonderful feeling to arrive at the Soles4Souls warehouse, meet you and see what a great program you are administering.

Imagine the surprise of the three Sole Sisters, who were unable to make the journey to deliver the collected shoes, when we returned to Saluda bringing more shoes -- 210 pairs of (gospel) shoes.

Best Wishes,
Ann Forrest Watkins

1 comment:

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