In the basement of the church are a few bins of shoes that remain from last year’s Love in the Laces shoe collection. Extras, not chosen or not required, because their size was not in demand. This fall, when school started up, I had requests for shoes from school social workers for students and then that slowed down too. One day in November I was asked by a school social worker for a pair for one more little girl. I remember pulling them from the bin - purple and white. Nothing fancy. But there they were... just waiting for the right little girl.
This week I learned of the life altering role those purple and white shoes played.
A young girl, new to the school in September, it soon became apparent that there were some challenges in her home with making ends meet. The school social worker arranged for lunches for her from The Mustard Seed program and the child started to access the breakfasts provided at the school. The child also is needing indoor footwear and staff find a pair of shoes in the lost and found. They are way too big but they will do for now. As the weeks go by the teacher and social worker become more concerned about the child’s well-being.
One day the social worker stops by the home unannounced to drop off a food hamper that she requested from us here, at CrossRoads Church, and is unsettled by what she sees and hears. Something is not right but she has nothing concrete to back up her suspicions. She continues to care for the child’s needs as she is able and begins to build trust. The social worker remembers that CrossRoads might have shoes. She calls us to see if we might have a certain size… and we do! The social worker has spent time with this girl now on a regular basis, developing a relationship, speaking with kindness, and even had the opportunity to take the time to measure her feet to find just the right size shoes.
When the little girl receives her new purple shoes and more nutrition from the caring adults at her school, she feels cared for; she believes that school is a safe place and that the adults there are watching out for her.
A few days later the school social worker is called to meet with the girl wearing her purple shoes. On this day this little one also wears marks on her face and on her body. Her hair has been cut to try and hide what has happened but is not successful. The marks on the outside are no match for damage to her heart. Because of the past kindness of the school social worker, this little one feels she can tell the story of what is happening at home and the rescue takes place. From this day on things can be different for her. A light begins to shine on her tomorrows that she couldn’t see before.
There are a lot of details that cannot be shared. But the school social worker did want CrossRoads to know that, because of your generosity and because you care, she was able to drop off a food hamper from your donations which opened a door to a relationship built on trust and kindness allowing her access to a situation she wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Because of a pair of shoes given by someone at CrossRoads as an act of kindness, she was able to spend time with this child measuring her feet and getting to know her. When she delivered and fitted the child with the shoes she again spent time with her and became a person of trust and familiarity. A person to open up to and turn to for help - for rescue. This school social worker really believes that because of CrossRoads support of her and in these practical areas, it opened up doors that may have remained closed.
When God prompted you to bring in food donations and purchase a pair of shoes, you played a role in the story of deliverance for a little girl from fear and mistreatment; you helped to put her in a place of safety and on a path of healing and hope. You also allowed a school social worker to do her job well, you expanded her resources, and, to our school social workers, you are a reflection of the heart of Father God who gives freely and abundantly and cares for the vulnerable.
Written by Laurie Whitaker