The success of a recent shoe giveaway sponsored by First Apostolic Tabernacle has prompted leaders there to continue their efforts in demonstrating how much they care about the Brazil community.
The church organized a program to provide shoes to children of low-income families in the area in June, and plan to sponsor additional events in coming months.
"We wanted to do this because we wanted to do something for our community," said Helen Hunt, who is married to the Rev. F. M. Hunt, pastor of First Apostolic Tabernacle.
The program was designed to help children whose families are unable to afford new shoes by providing them with footwear at no charge. The church posted flyers with information and children were able to sign up and give details about their shoe sizes. Rather than simply handing out the shoes, the church made an event of it by providing hot dogs and Kool-Aid, games, a puppet show and Gospel Illusions. Groups of children would be called into a room to choose their shoes with the help of volunteers before being ushered back outside for ice cream and games. About 100 people took part in the event, Hunt said, and the church helped about 60 children.
"All in all, we had a really good turnout. Mayor Arthur handed out the first pair of shoes. He said he enjoyed it," she said. "It was just a thing our church did to show we care about the community."
The First Apostolic Outreach Department organized fundraising activities including sales of candy and Home Interiors candles. After raising $450 for the shoe giveaway, the Brazil Wal-Mart store matched the figure with another $450. Both Wal-Mart and Shoe Show shoe store offered shoes and special discounts.
"We were very thankful for that. They gave us some wonderful, wonderful deals. We were well pleased," Hunt said. "And to see the smiles and looks on some of those little faces. I told Mayor Arthur it's worth it all. We really enjoy doing it, and I know it's not going to be the last time."
Brazil Mayor Tom Arthur enjoyed participating in the event, and praised the efforts of First Apostolic Tabernacle, as well as other congregations in the community that provide goods and services to citizens in need.
"It was just an honor to be able to give the shoes away," he said. "I think it's nice the churches can look beyond their own congregations to give to the community."
The idea for the shoe giveaway was conceived by Outreach Coordinator Billy Jo Huey, whose personal struggles during her own childhood inspired her to help others in similar situations.
"This was actually her brain child, and she did an excellent job," Hunt said.
Huey, who said her own shoes were always worn out when she was a child, was also pleased the Mayor could participate in the event.
"It was really awesome that he came. We love our children and we want them to know that," she said. "As a child, I struggled a lot. I always needed shoes."
Although the program was originally designed for those in elementary school, some older children signed up, and the church was also able to provide them with shoes. A giveaway for school supplies and backpacks is planned for the fall, and Huey said the church hopes to conduct similar events about every six months.
"We have a lot of other things planned. It was a really awesome experience, and it really blessed us. We just had so much fun. It was really awesome," Huey said. "We really appreciated all the Mayor's support and we were glad that he was there."
For further information, to make a donation or volunteer, persons may call the First Apostolic Tabernacle and parsonage during business hours at 812-446-9023, Outreach Coordinator Billy Jo Huey at 765-548-0146 or James McKinney at 812-442-8822.