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Wearing out poverty

Family Life Church collecting shoes for those in need


by Trinity Gruenberg

    It’s a warm, sunny day. You throw on a pair of sandals and move on with your day. When the snow falls you throw on a pair of snow boots and shovel the driveway. Feel like going for a run? You have shoes for that, too. We can simply choose a pair of shoes from a variety stored in the closet. 

    Most people take for granted having shoes to wear. 

    In countries across the globe, people are walking barefoot on blistering hot sand, frozen peaks and across splintering wood because they do not have a pair of shoes to protect their feet. 

    The Verndale Family Life Church (FLC) has teamed up with Soles4Souls for a second time. Their goal is to collect 2400 pairs of shoes by August 26.

    Pastor Tahna Rurup explained that the FLC did this two years ago with a goal of 2000 pairs of shoes and came out with amazing results. 

    “We thought it was a ridiculous goal that we were never going to meet. But we were going to try anyway,” recalled Rurup.

    On Barefoot Sunday, a woman left her brand new pair of shoes at the alter because they were one pair short of the goal. On the last day 400 pairs of shoes came in. They ended up collecting just over 2400 pairs of shoes.

    “They are given to homeless shelters and sent around the world,” said Rurup.

    They began collecting shoes on July 8. So far, they have 838 pairs of shoes boxed up and on display in the sanctuary. 

    They are looking for new and gently used shoes. Anything from sandals to work boots, kids shoes to slippers.

    Rurup shared she was holding on to shoes from friends and family the last two years and brought in over 100 pairs. 

    The assortment of shoes Rurup sorted through were cute, brand new flats to mud covered work boots. Sometimes a box can hold 30 pairs of shoes or as few as seven. 

    “It’s nice to see the generosity people give,” said Rurup.

    She continued to pack the boxes and came across a bag of hospital slipper socks. Those, too, went into the box

    “It’s fun to watch the church and community have a passion for this,” added Rurup.

    They like banana boxes because they are strong and easy to stack. The shoes are boxed up and sent to The Cities where they will be organized in a warehouse and sent with missionaries around the world. 

    “We are in need of more banana boxes,” said Rurup.

    She said that some people go to garage sales and make an offer for all the shoes or ask to take them if they don’t sell. People have also checked with thrift stores and clearance sales. Shoes can be dropped off from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and before service on Sunday.

    “We don’t realize how important shoes are. They protect our feet. They help us get from point A to point B,” noted Rurup.

    August 26 is Barefoot Sunday. The service will begin at 10 a.m. and end around 11:30 a.m.

    “We encourage people to come to church with shoes you will leave at the front of the alter, walk out barefoot and go home barefoot,” she said. “It will give them an aspect of what people who will be receiving these shoes go through.”

    Rurup had packed 91 pairs of shoes in the time we spoke and there were still boxes sitting around the floor full of shoes to be sorted. She believes there were about 400 pairs of shoes that day, and they will still need more. FLC plans to collect shoes every other year. 

    Shoes are distributed across the globe from Costa Rica, India and even right here in the U.S. Children miss school, adults can’t work and walking can become unbearable because they have no shoes. 

    Soles4Souls was founded as a disaster relief organization after philanthropists and shoe executives provided footwear to those most impacted by the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Soles4Souls was officially formed as a non-profit in 2006. Soles4Souls has provided new shoes in 127 countries and all 50 U.S. states. For more information check out

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