On Wednesday, December 14, a group of 36 children and adults from Central offered a special gift to Emerald Youth Foundation, a Christian organization that partners with over 2000 urban students, aging from kindergarten-12th grade, to encourage effective leadership in their community.
The special gift was a donation of 175 pairs of shoes that have been collected over the past several weeks, funded by a special offering taken during the last Sunday of every month during 2016.
According to Children’s Ministry Director Debby Long, “the children and students were encouraged to set aside and give a portion of the money they earned or were given as an offering.”
When the final offering was collected for the year, each child received $35 to spend on shoes to donate to the Emerald Youth Foundation. Debby said that each child was challenged to prayerfully consider stewarding the money well with sales and coupons.
“They accepted this challenge and far exceeded our expectations” Debby said.
The shoes were being collected and donated to Emerald’s annual Christmas Store.
“Emerald is in the process of creating a large store for the families they partner with who financially struggle buying Christmas gifts for their children. The items in their store are sold at roughly 10% to 20% of the cost to make it affordable for the families. Emeralds goal is to empower the parents to provide the gifts for their children and thereby restore their dignity,” said Debby.
Not only did the children donate shoes, but also each child who attended the shoe drop off also volunteered their time by helping to stock the shoes and price them.
“They served with great hearts!” Debby said.
Having shoes to wear doesn’t usually feel like a luxury for many of us, but for some, a new pair could mean finally throwing away a raggedy old pair that are two-sizes too small. Giving the gift of shoes could also mean something more…
“Parents have so many needs to address for their families that often shoes might be the last thing on their list. May these shoes bring warmth, comfort and hope that they are well loved,” Debby said.
Those receiving the shoes won’t be the only ones to receive a blessing, though. “In Acts 20:35, God's word teaches us, ‘In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, 'it is more blessed to give than to receive'," Debby quoted.
She hopes that the children have learned the pure joy of giving and serving others from their experience at Emerald.
“There is always great value in children serving and sacrificially giving. God is faithful to use these acts to soften our hearts and allow us to see the needs of others over the wants we have or dissatisfaction we struggle with. Our children embraced this opportunity to provide shoes for others. They loved well!” Debby said.