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Saving souls by helping soles

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Paula Tugwell shows Bossier Elementary third grader Amilya Miller her new pair of shoes as Patrick McLain washes her feet. The Simple Church partnered with international organization Samaritan's Feet to provide new socks and shoes for 1,000 students in Bossier schools last week.
Amanda Simmons
amanda@bossierpress.com

More than 30 years ago, a young Nigerian boy named Manny received his first pair of shoes.

It changed his life, because even more important than that pair of shoes was the gift of encouragement he received from a good samaritan. He was inspired to believe in his dreams, reach for the sky and never give up.

This simple act is the inspiration behind the international organization Samaritan’s Feet and Bossier’s own Simple Church is following their example. Volunteers went to Bossier Elementary School last week to wash feet, which is symbolic of the ultimate act of service, and give every student with a new pair of socks and shoes.

Patrick McLain slipped a new pair of sneakers on third grader Amilya Miller’s feet. Her excitement was easily seen from the ear-to-ear smile on her face.

“They’re pretty,” she said, smiling from ear to ear. “And they feel good.”

Miller said she couldn’t remember the last time she had a new pair of shoes. These stories are ones the Simple Church volunteers will never forget.

“It’s very rewarding to be part of this,” McLain said. “To see them so excited about something as simple as a new pair of shoes…that’s why we’re here.”

Bossier Elementary Principal Treska Mitchell shared the excitement with her students.

“This is a great need,” she said. “It’s great for them to see that someone out there cares about them and every child loves the attention they give. This shows that there are still people in the world who care for our kids and believe in their futures.”

Samaritan’s Feet shares hope with children in the U.S. and around the world by washing their feet, giving them a new pair of shoes, and helping them believe that their dreams can come true. They believe that a new pair of shoes can be a tangible foundation of hope to a person in need.

Bossier Elementary was the third school the Simple Church had visited last week. Bryan Reed, Community Pastor, said the shoes are merely a vehicle for sharing love, hope and encouragement.

“Our hope is that it leaves a lasting impact on them, and it will,” Reed said. “This will implant a memory in their brain and our hope is that they realize they can give back to others as well.”

Mitchell said there aren’t enough words to express her thanks to the Simple Church.

“We can never repay them for the joy they have brought to our school,” she said. “Seeing them smile and hearing their laughter shows me the real reason why I’m here – to keep these kids happy and healthy.”

Simple Church volunteers washed the feet of more than 1,000 students in Bossier Parish Schools and handed out new socks and shoes to each one of them.