Friday, October 24, 2008

Wabasha Church joins effort to collect 35,000 pairs of shoes

Each pair of donated shoes has a story to tell.

The red canvas high-tops still have the price tag attached, recently plucked off a nearby store shelf. The pair of gray and blue Nikes with a few scuffs on the side. The pink, Disney-themed tennis shoes with pictures of Cinderella on the sides have likely been outgrown by the child who once wore them, the Rev. Roger Claxton supposes.

Claxton proves less sure about the history of a pair of white women's dress shoes, but he imagines a bright future. These could make some young girls day, just that unexpected something, said the pastor of Wabasha Grace Memorial Episcopal Church.

The Wabasha donations serve as a local example in a statewide effort. Episcopal congregations across Minnesota have collected footwear for Soles4Souls.

Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota officials organized the effort as a way to celebrate 150 years of the church in the state, with a goal of providing thousands of unexpected somethings to those in need worldwide.

The 100-member congregation of Grace Memorial collected about 65 pairs of new or gently worn shoes since early September. Bags of shoes would just show up in the collection box, Claxton said. Pretty soon, it was getting full, he said. It was really impressive to see.

Organizers estimate more than 35,000 shoes will be collected statewide, and Johnson said many of them will be displayed during the two-day convention in Rochester, Minn. After the convention, the shoes will be packed into a semitrailer provided by Soles4Souls.

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