Thursday, September 25, 2008

Diocese Shoe Drive Under Way

The stage at the 2008 annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota, scheduled for October 24-25, 2008, will be larger than usual. Choir risers will be in place, but instead of singers, they will hold hundreds of boxes of donated new and slightly-used shoes that will be brought to the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester by 150 congregations and organizations.

The ingathering will be the culmination of a statewide shoe drive, the largest of its kind in Minnesota history, according to Wendy Johnson, the diocese's director of communications, who conceived the effort.

The diocese has partnered with Soles4Souls and it is anticipated that many of the shoes collected in Minnesota will go to aid victims of hurricanes Gustav and Ike in the Caribbean and southeastern United States.

Johnson said that a shoe drive was chosen because the diocese wanted to collect something "basic to our common life throughout the world, yet which receives very little focus."

"This is something that everyone can participate in, whether young or old and regardless of position or status," she said.

Special collection boxes were shipped to the congregations and organizations of the Diocese of Minnesota in late August. Johnson says that several congregations have requested additional boxes.

Only two weeks into the drive, St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Roseville had four overflowing boxes and was making room for more.

Bishop Jelinek says the gathering of the shoes will create a "dramatic sight and be an expression of love very much in the character and spirit of the 150 years of mission of the Diocese of Minnesota."

"So often we are asking for items that a person would need to purchase. In this economy, this drive for shoes allows everyone in the congregation to participate," he said.

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