Bellevue Community Church Steps Up to Support the "Million Pair March" From Soles4Souls
NASHVILLE - Bellevue Community Church is supporting the Million Pair March, a campaign from international shoe charity Soles4Souls™ Inc., which collects and distributes new and ’gently worn’ shoes to needy people in the United States and around the world. The Million Pair March is a nationwide effort to raise 1 million pairs of new and gently worn shoes and $1 million to ship the footwear to the refugee camps of Southern Sudan.
To lend a hand to the campaign, Bellevue Community Church is holding an event called the “1,000 Shoe Weekend” during the church’s services May 19-20, 2007. The church’s leadership is inviting members to attend a service during this weekend and leave their shoes on the altar in order to demonstrate God’s love to hurting people across the world with the simple gift of shoes. Half of the pairs donated during the weekend will support the Million Pair March; the other half will be delivered to the Nashville Rescue Mission for distribution to the region’s homeless population.
Bellevue Community Church’s new senior pastor, David Perez, says that the Million Pair March is the type of grassroots campaign that his congregation will support in a major way. “The people at this church have huge hearts for missions and making a tangible difference in someone’s life,” Perez said. “Shoes are a simple commodity that we all take for granted, and by donating the shoes right off our feet, we hope to inspire our community to get involved in helping less fortunate people in our community, as well as around the world,” Perez said.
“Compassionate church members -- like the ones at Bellevue Community Church -- are helping transform our charity’s goals into reality,” said Wayne Elsey, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Soles4Souls. “We are impressed with their creative ideas on how to reach out to their community and the world. We are especially delighted that a church body from our community would partner with us in such a big way,” Elsey said.
Although the “1,000 Pair Weekend” is scheduled for mid-May, Bellevue Community Church already has put up donation bins around its Hope Park campus, located at 8001 Highway 70 South, in West Nashville. Anyone in the community is invited to drop by Monday-Friday from 9am to 5pm to donate shoes. For more information, visit the church’s website at www.hopepark.com.
Nashville-based Soles4Souls began its mission in the immediate aftermath of the Asian tsunami of December 2004, when it sent 250,000 pairs of shoes to the victims in Southeast Asia. It also collected and distributed 750,000 pairs of shoes for survivors of Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast region.
The organization will have a large truck on site at the church to collect shoes from now until May 23rd. “We are in the final stretch of our Million Pair March campaign, which ends on May 31,” said Elsey. “The product is flowing in and we are hoping to meet our goal of 1 million pairs,” he said.
Elsey is also exploring the environmental benefits of Soles4Souls. “Recycling is a big part of being socially conscious, and discarded shoes take up an enormous amount of space in our nation’s landfills,” he said. “The concept is really a win-win for people and the environment. Donating your shoes will help someone in need and not take up unnecessary space in our landfills,” he said.
According to Elsey, there are two ways individuals can get involved with the campaign. The first is to clean out individual closets and ship the shoes to the charity’s warehouse in Alabama for worldwide distribution. Many celebrities, athletes, politicians, and even hundreds of schoolchildren have already raised hundreds of thousands of shoes for the effort. The second is to donate money to be used completely for shipping expenses. Details are available on the organization’s website, www.giveshoes.org.
Elsey recently left an executive position at a large footwear company to join the charity he founded. “I’m happy to be able to help people with such a simple mission,” Elsey said. “The growth of this organization has been rapid and I am excited to get involved on a daily basis so that I can devote more time to a cause I strongly believe in,” he said.
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