How Shoes Taught Me About Gratitude
Local Good Center Volunteer Greg Hendrix reflects on saying “yes” to a serving opportunity which helped remind of how much more is gained than given.
“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” (John 13:14-15)
Recently, I got the chance to serve at the Local Good Center’s “We’ve Got Your Back” school supply drive, where selected students from Terrance, Rasor, Mendenhall, Birmingham, and Rountree Elementary schools were invited to pick out new backpacks and school supplies for $5. We gave out backpacks and a complete set of supplies to 402 kids (211 families), and another 128 teachers received school supplies for their classrooms. More school supplies went to other Chase Oaks partner organizations. We also gave away about 200 free t-shirts, 200 pairs of shoes, and had two hair stylists provide free haircuts (about 40) on their busiest day of the year.
I was placed in the shoe area, helping to size and fit children for new shoes which had been generously donated. I have volunteered in the community for many years, and each time I like to ask God to grow and deepen my trust in Him. God proved Himself trustworthy yet again!
Families who had been identified by partner school counselors and partner organizations would enter our room, and each school-aged person would get sized and fitted for a new pair of shoes. Approximately 230 families visited our room, and 200 pairs of shoes were provided. As I interacted with families—taking off shoes (and often handling all sizes of sweaty summer feet), sizing their children, and helping to tie shoelaces—I noticed some things about them. They were extremely grateful for the help of a free pair of new shoes provided for their family.
I saw lots of smiles and heard joyful laughter, even though I suspect life is stressful for them. I also got a deep sense of the beauty in diversity within the room. People spoke different languages at times, but this didn’t stop us from communicating enough to help each other. Throughout the day as the team of volunteers served, we felt the “hope meter” going up in the room.One specific family taught me a deeper meaning of gratitude. We were out of a shoe size they needed to fit one of her three kids. I was disappointed and apologetic, wishing I could give him the new pair of shoes he needed. The mom reassured me with a warm smile and kind words. She said, “You all have helped so much today with shoes, school supplies and backpacks. Thank you! I can now take him to the store and get him a new pair of shoes. I could not afford to buy them all new shoes, but now I can buy him a pair.” I am not sure I would have reacted with her humility and thankfulness. Thank you, Lord, for showing me genuine gratitude!
As I reflect on serving at this year’s “We’ve Got Your Back” backpack drive, I believe God grew and deepened my trust in Him. I have a deeper perspective about joy, peace, hope, kindness, and gratitude. I am thankful God gave me the opportunity to meet some new people because I like to imagine all that “shoe fitting” was kind of like being at the feet of Jesus Himself, washing His feet.
Interested in getting involved with the Local Good Center? Find more info at https://www.localgoodcenter.org/take-action