Shortly after bringing Lily and Alayna home from Bulgaria, my shoes started to go missing. At first I chalked it up to jet lag and the general exhaustion that comes from transitioning two new children into the family. My brain was simply too tired to remember where I had put my shoes.
One day, while the other kids were outside playing in the backyard, I realized that it had been awhile since I had seen Lily. I went back inside and began patrolling the house. As I neared her bedroom, I could hear her singing softly to herself. I quietly peeked into her room and was surprised to find her sitting in the middle of the floor surrounded by all of my missing shoes. One by one, I watched her try them on, her face lighting up like a Christmas tree with each pair.
A few days later, I took her shoe shopping. I'm pretty sure she thought she had died and gone to Heaven.
Sixteen months after bringing Lily home, I STILL have to be careful about leaving my shoes lying around. When they go missing, I know exactly where I will find them.
Alayna and Alexis aren't much different. Shoes are just as much of a treasure to them as they are to Lily.
But why? What is so fascinating about a pair of shoes?
Shoes are a hot commodity in orphanages. They are expensive and hard to come by. Most children are only allotted one pair of shoes per year (and some don't have shoes at all). I have personally seen many sweet little feet squeezed into shoes several sizes too small and others in shoes much too large for their tiny feet. When shoes are available they are usually "community property." Most orphans do not have the privilege of personal property, instead they must share their clothes, toys, shoes, bedding, etc. with all of the other kids in the orphanage. With that in mind, can you see why shoes are such a treasured possession?
Tonight I'd like to share with you one of my favorite orphan-care organizations: Shoes for Orphan Souls (SOS), a ministry of Buckner International that provides shoes and socks to orphans and vulnerable children in the US and throughout the world.
Since 1999, SOS has distributed over 2.2 million pairs of new shoes and socks to children in 73 countries!
There are several ways that you can get involved with this AWESOME organization:
1. Donate your birthday! Throw a party and ask your guests to bring a pair of new shoes in lieu of gifts!
2. Host a Shoe Drive! Even if you don't have the money to donate or to purchase new shoes, you can host a shoe drive at your school, business or church.
3. Make a monetary donation! Each $25 donation provides a new pair of shoes for at-risk children and orphans in the US and around the world.
4. Give the gift of shoes (and socks)! "Black Friday" is just around the corner and you KNOW there will be shoe sales! Why not grab a few extra pairs of shoes and socks and give a gift that is truly priceless!
This year, as part of our Christmas festivities, our family will host a shoe drive. It is a wonderful way to get our children and our community involved in reaching out and caring for children in need and it is SO. SIMPLE!
Even though we will not be there to see the faces of the recipients of our gifts, I already know that they will light up like Christmas trees when they receive these treasures because I have had the privilege of witnessing (almost daily), the joy of one little girl who understands what a precious gift a pair of shoes really is.