Greene Street Church VBS collects 270 pairs of shoes for Well of Hope


By Sam Wildow

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PIQUA — A local church’s Vacation Bible School recently collected approximately 270 pairs of shoes to support women in Kenya through an organization called Well of Hope.

Susan Hopkins, a member of Greene Street United Methodist Church in Piqua, also volunteers for the church’s Vacation Bible School, and she recently helped the church’s latest Vacation Bible School connect with Well of Hope.

Hopkins found out about Well of Hope through a Bible study at Grace Christian Bookstore, 1210 E. Ash St. in Piqua, which also collects shoes for Well of Hope.

“I always saw this barrel right by the door with these brochures that talked about donating your shoes,” Hopkins said. “That was about three years ago.”

According to Well of Hope, the shoes collected by this organization are shipped to Nairobi, Kenya, where they are sold to local vendors. Then, 100% of the proceeds from the sales of these shoes go to support local widows in rural Kenya. Widows in rural parts of Kenya may face social discrimination, such as being forced out of their homes when their husbands pass away, as well as other potential harmful practices. The proceeds raised from Well of Hope help to provide those women with land, a small house, and other support.

“It’s an amazing thing,” Hopkins said. “It gives these women hope … They actually own the land, so it can never be taken from them.”

Hopkins approached the church about using Well of Hope as the mission focus for Vacation Bible School. Hopkins worked with the organizers of the church’s Vacation Bible School, Jennifer Sweetman and her family, to help get the kids involved in collecting shoes to donate to the organization earlier this summer.

Since the children were young, Hopkins said she had to simplify the mission of Well of Hope, telling the kids it was to help people who did not have homes or access to water. Their theme for their Vacation Bible School this year was also Rocky Mountain Railway, so they decorated tubs for the donated shoes to go in to look like train cars.

The shoes started coming in slowly, Hopkins said, adding, “Then all of a sudden, the shoes started pouring in.”

They started receiving so many shoes that they ran out of space in their makeshift train cars to hold the shoes. They collected 178 pairs from the Vacation Bible School — which had approximately 50 people participating it, including both children and volunteers — but Hopkins said the shoes kept coming in after the Vacation Bible School ended. They ended up with approximately 270 pairs of shoes, working with local Well of Hope partners Harold and Nancy Flory of Covington to ship the shoes to Kenya.

“I just felt like God kept putting this on my heart,” Hopkins said.

She continues to hear from people who want to donate shoes, so she directs them to the shoe collection at Grace Christian Bookstore.

“The only thing they don’t take is flip flops,” Hopkins said about Well of Hope.

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