Two community driven organizations are teaming up with a local school to provide students with an essential necessity: shoes.
Samaritan’s Feet International and Thrivent Financial will be distributing nearly 300 pairs of new shoes and socks to students at Lewis & Clark Elementary in Williston on Friday, Dec. 6 from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Samaritan’s Feet is a humanitarian aid organization that serves children by providing shoes to children in communities across the globe.
According to the World Health Organization, over 1.5 billion people are infected with diseases that are transmitted through contaminated soil, and it is the goal of Samaritan’s Feet to create a world with zero shoeless children. Since its founding in 2003, the organization and its partners have served more than seven million people in 108 nations and more than 395 cities across America.
Friday’s event was put together by the Thrivent Member Network-Northland Region, which had previously sponsored shoe distributions for over 300 students in Minot and more than 400 students in Grand Forks. This year alone, the organization and its partners have provided more than 3,500 individuals with shoes through Samaritan’s Feet.
“Serving others comes in many shapes and forms, this is a huge generosity project that makes a difference in the lives of kids,” said Mike Paulson, Thrivent Financial Manager of Community Engagement. “It’s not that kids are coming to school without shoes, they’re required to get in the door. Their current shoes might be too small, too big or passed down from a sibling. At this event, they’ll get a pair of shoes that are theirs and a stranger washed their feet and served them. What spark might this light within these kids to pay it forward and someday serve someone else.”
Kristin Iverson, financial associate at Thrivent Financial in Williston, said the organization wanted to host the event in the area, seeing it as an opportunity to give back to the community and instill excitement and hope in the students, as well as providing a tangible resource for those in need.
“Almost every kid needs shoes, because they grow so fast,” Iverson said. “So, it’s a way to tangibly help kids and their families, and is also a neat opportunity to just cheer those kids on and help them be excited about their lives and the future.”
Lewis & Clark Principal Meredith Johnson said the school is very honored and humbled to have been chosen by Thrivent and Samaritan’s Feet. Johnson said the mission of the organization aligns with what the school tries to promote in their students, making it an ideal partnership. In fact, she said, the school plans to continue that mission in the community by encouraging students to give back in their own ways.
“A big mission for us at our school and something that we promote is kindness and helping others and paying it forward,” Johnson said. “So the whole message of this is that we’re going to take a step further at our school and facilitate throughout the year ‘where will your shoes take you?’ Someone gave you these shoes, where will they take you, what will you do in kindness for someone else. So we’re really going to focus on that as a theme throughout the year.”
Students will be given laminated paper shoes, and will be encouraged to post pictures of themselves as they give back and pay it forward in their community. At the end of the year, she added, the school hopes to put together a presentation showing all the ways students have given back.
“We’re excited to for the opportunity to be able to spread that positive message, because that’s very much what we believe in as a school and as a staff.” Johnson said.
Anyone interested in volunteering with Thrivent to assist with the event can do so by calling 701-572-7288. For more information about Samaritan’s Feet International, visit www.SamaritansFeet.org.