By Jennifer Gribble
Well, it's 6:37PM and I have been struggling for a few hours to find the words to describe my experience today at the Sole Chain/Shoes for Orphan Souls event.
For those of you that don't know, today (August 21, 2010) South Main Baptist Church broke the Guinness World Record for the Longest Chain of Shoes.* 20,110 shoes were laid out in the church parking lot in Houston. Over 100 volunteers worked from 9:00AM to 3:00PM to lay out the shoes, tie them together, pack the shoes, and then load them up on a truck that is going to Buckner International's warehouse in Dallas. Buckner uses these new shoes as a part of the Shoes for Orphan Souls project.
I found myself driving home from the event this afternoon in complete silence (not the usual for me as I like to ?rock out? when I drive) and tears just started falling down my cheeks. I didn't know why but I was just crying. I kept trying to figure out what was causing the tears and I realized that I am just overwhelmed.
I am overwhelmed?
by the generosity of South Main Baptist Church's members.by the Houston community who showed up to bring a pair of shoes and lend a hand in placing and packing the shoes.by the willingness of people to give up their Saturday to sweat in 110 degree heat-index temperatures on a concrete parking lot.by the fact that 10,055 orphans will be blessed by these donations.by the homeless man that came by to ask what was going on and then donated $5 to the cause.by the camaraderie shown by all the volunteers today.by the willingness of people stay until all the work was done? the truck packed, the trash picked up, everything loaded up.most of all, by the emotion that changing the lives of so many orphans brings to me.
I have been a small part of the Buckner International Shoes For Orphan Souls shoe drive since we joined South Main in 2001. This year, as SMBC Marketing Coordinator, Sole Chain has been my main focus for the past few months. I spent hours and hours getting ready for the event, promoting it, and calling media to get coverage. All important tasks?but when it comes down to it, the real work was done by our volunteers who worked in the hot sun today.
Sole Chain is much more than a publicity stunt. This is about kids. I had to look through my own shoes this morning to decide which pair to wear today. The children that receive these shoes don't have any. This one pair of shoes will change their lives. It is as simple as that.
My experience today has changed me. Softened my heart, opened my eyes, touched my soul. It was an amazing day.
Send shoes. See smiles. Save souls.
Jennifer Gribble is a South Main Member and SMBC Marketing Coordinator. She is married to Mark Gribble and is the mom of Ty and Lily.
* Our record was surpassed on May 7, 2011, by The Shoeman Water Projects, which placed 24,962 shoes heel-to-toe to spell the word "water" at Stankowski Field at the University of Missouri-Columbia, in Columbia, Missouri. Still, it was great to be a record-holder while it lasted!