Texans give 17,500 pairs
of shoes for Russian orphans
___By Scott Collins
___& Toby Druin
___Buckner News Service
___DALLAS--Two by two, they came from all over Texas.
___Some came in large groups and some in single boxes, but they all came in pairs. They represented nearly every size, color and kind. And while they don't know it, they soon will bring smiles to thousands of Russian orphans.
___On Friday morning, Sept. 17, they piled into the first of two 40-foot containers bound
for passage aboard a ship headed for Russia.
|PASTOR JACK BROADWATER and his wife (right) work with fellow church members to load up shoes donated by members of Muldoon Baptist Church for the Shoes for Russian Souls project sponsored by Buckner International Services for Children. The 86-member church contributed 120 pairs of shoes.
___Altogether, they are an army of nearly 20,000 pairs of shoes donated to Buckner International Services for Children and Children's HopeChest. The two non-profit organizations collected the shoes during August for distribution to Russian orphans in November.
___The mission project was highlighted in previous issues of the Baptist Standard, which became the primary source of inspiring participation among churches of all sizes, Buckner officials said.
___The response was "overwhelming," said Amy Norton, director of Buckner International Services and coordinator of the Shoes for Russian Souls project.
___The month-long shoe drive brought in nearly 17,500 pairs of shoes, nearly 20,000 pairs of socks and more than $60,000 in cash contributions, she said. Additional shoes and money are being received daily, even though the 1999 drive officially ended Aug. 31.
___"Each pair of shoes represents another child who will receive a pair of warm shoes," Norton said. "It's just tremendous to think of how many children we're helping."
___Last year, the Shoes for Russian Souls effort collected 5,000 pairs. For 1999, Buckner officials set a goal of 10,000 hoping extended coverage would boost donations. Norton said she had no idea the drive would yield nearly double that goal.
___One of the largest responses came from South Main Baptist Church in Houston, which collected more than 1,000 pairs of shoes.
___In mid-November, teams of volunteers will travel to three regions in Russia to deliver the shoes to the Russian orphans. Norton said the trip, called Journey of the Heart, is an opportunity for Americans to show love and care for the children. Volunteers will place a new pair of shoes on the feet of the children and spend time getting to know the orphans.
___The phenomenal response of Texas Baptists to Shoes for Russian Souls may have been best exemplified by the efforts of Muldoon Baptist Church, a small congregation in south central Texas.
___Members of the Muldoon church, which has 86 members, most of them ranchers or retirees, and averages a few more than 70 in Sunday School, contributed 120 pairs of shoes, including a pair of ostrich cowboy boots, dozens of pairs of socks and several hundred dollars to the effort.
___Buckner International Services for Children appealed for Texas Baptists to contribute shoes for children in Russian orphanages.
___The need for shoes quickly became a church project at Muldoon after a story about it appeared in the July 21 issue of the Baptist Standard.
___"Ken Franz gets his Standard before I do," said Pastor Jack Broadwater. "He called and asked if I had read it and the story about the need for shoes for kids in Russia. He said, 'This might be something we ought to do.'"
___Broadwater asked Franz to call Mike Hostetter, the church's Brotherhood president, to see if it might be a project for his organization to sponsor.
___Hostetter liked the idea. "Man, we need to do this," he said, and he suggested the church serve as a drop-off point for other churches in Gonzales Baptist Association.
___The project caught on quickly with the Muldoon congregation, Broadwater said. "Our people were very enthusiastic about it. But these people are always looking for mission opportunities. They do give to missions."
___When Broadwater talked about the project in the Sunday School class he teaches, a visitor gave $300.
___"This has been a great thing for our church," Broadwater said. "The whole church has participated. I'm sure those Russian children will be blessed when they get the shoes, but we have already received a blessing."
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