By Kelly Halverson
On Sunday, February 17th, students from the UJ Samaritans Feet Global Ambassadors (SFGA) handed out shoes to children in need.
Over 140 children were signed up to receive new shoes that were collected by UJ students. The event was held in the Harold Newman Arena where children had their feet washed by students and received brand new socks and shoes.
More than 300 pairs of new shoes were collected by SFGA through student collection and donations at the Jimmie Men’s basketball barefoot game. Once at the HNA children were greeted by SFGA members who brought them to a washing station where a UJ student washed the child’s feet and helped them put on a new pair of socks and shoes. Children were then given the chance to test out their new shoes on the HNA court by shooting hoops or jumping rope with Jimmie SFGA members.
“The highlight of my day was when I brought a little girl a pair of Frozen shoes and her face lit up when she saw them and screamed ‘Elsa!’ and was so happy after.” Said Katlyn Buethner, SFGA treasurer.
This was the second annual Samaritan’s Feet shoe distribution that UJ has hosted, but this was the first year that UJ has been an official university chapter of the Samaritans Feet organization. SFGA has over 60 members, making it the largest student organization on campus. Not only is SFGA a huge accomplishment for UJ, but it is also the first student organization that Samaritan’s Feet has ever had.
Samaritan’s Feet was founded in 2003 by Manny Ohonme, who grew up in Nigeria and received his first pair of shoes at the age of nine. This gift was one of the motivating factors that pushed him to pursue basketball, which ultimately landed him an athletic scholarship to a school in North Dakota. After his graduation he formed Samaritan’s Feet to try to help other children receive the same gift that he was given back in Nigeria. Since its establishment Samaritan’s Feet has distributed 6.8 million pairs of shoes to children in need.
Children who pre-registered but weren’t able to attend the distribution will still be getting their shoes, as SFGA members packed up shoes and socks for each child that was signed up. These shoes will be distributed to the appropriate school districts by SFGA members, to ensure that every child that needs shoes receives them.
The goal of Samaritan’s Feet is to help create a world where no child has to go without shoes, and it is clear after Sunday’s successful distribution that UJ is helping to make strides towards reaching that goal. SFGA is currently still accepting members and is in the process of planning a mission trip for the summer.
If you would like to get involved, contact Dr. Thorlakson.