Monday, June 08, 2009

Barefoot Sunday Results in 700 Pair at Connecticut Church

There were flip-flops and clogs, high heels and sandals.

There were black Converse sneakers, red slip on Jollys and brown leathery work boots.

There were shoes in boxes and shoes in bags. There were shoes on benches. People even gave the shoes off their feet.

The shoes lined the left side of the altar at Mary Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church in Milford, CT. They filled a giant sneaker created by Ryan Lapadula, a 9-year-old third-grader, as the church celebrated its first Barefoot Sunday.

"I suggested that anyone who wanted to experience what it's like not to have shoes, go barefoot during the service," said Leigh Bak, who coordinated the event with Stacy Meszros and Rachel Merva, all of Milford. "We have a very giving and generous congregation, so I'm not surprised."

Sometime this week the shoes will be shipped to Roanoke, Ala., where they will be sorted by type, size and style.

Bak said her church became aware of the need for shoes when several members went on a mission in Vietnam last year.

"We sent hockey bags full of flip-flops with them which they handed out to young girls who make their living picking through garbage piles. Most of the girls are barefoot and run the risk of not only cutting themselves but picking up parasitic infections in their feet."

Mary Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church was one of nearly 200 churches that participated in the second annual Barefoot Sunday.

"We are definitely going to do this again next year," said the Rev. Virginia Hoch, senior pastor.

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