Off The Gridiron - Heart & Soles: Grace, Brook Hill pair up to put shoes on Ugandan children

Published on Friday, 1 November 2013 22:49 - Written by By Dayna Worchel dworchel@tylerpaper.com

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Grace Community School Senior Monica Lim, 17, and her fellow classmates are hoping the shoes they collected for some school children in Uganda will not only provide a physical need, but a spiritual one as well.

The school’s Government Service Committee members, along with their counterparts at The Brook Hill School, have collected new and gently used athletic shoes for the past two weeks to send to students and adults at a school in Uganda. And many of those Ugandan students have never owned a pair of shoes. The Tyler-based nonprofit Parental Care Ministries will then send the collected shoes to students at the Parental Care School in Uganda.

“This school drive, called Shoes for Heeling Soles is especially meaningful to us because both Grace and Brook Hill have special ties with Parental Care Ministries in Uganda,” Miss Lim said. Many students have been involved with sponsorship or have taken trips to the schools in Uganda, she said.

During halftime at the Friday night football game between Grace and Brook Hill, students, parents and staff members from both schools were scheduled to deposit the shoes on the track, which surrounds the field at Clyde-Perkins Stadium.

“Our hope is to bring families together for a fun yet heartfelt event at halftime,” Ms. Lim said. “This is a shoe collection to provide basic athletic shoes for these children, but the goal is to not just bring shoes but to encourage the family aspect of our schools. We want to share our love with PCM because of how much these kids have blessed and encouraged us.”

The community service team is focused on impacting three different spheres this year: school, community and the world. School leaders want to encourage the rest of our students to get involved in service and connecting with the community, Miss Lim said. Pastor Emmanuel Nnyanzi, who heads up the Parental Community Ministries school in Uganda, was scheduled to be at the Friday game to receive the shoes.

The shoes mean everything to those Ugandan students, many of who have never owned a pair, Parental Care Ministries Director of Ministry Operations Justin Hayes said. During the summer, Hayes said, about 1,500 pairs of black leather school shoes were collected for the Ugandan students. “But many of the orphans who live at the school have no other shoes (besides the school shoes) and we wanted to offer them an athletic casual shoe,” he said.

“It’s not just about a shoe — it’s the fact that someone loved them enough and cared about them to send them shoes, Hayes said. “We see the joy they have and we learn from their humility.”

Grace marketing director Elise Carter said the Ugandan school is the main ministry for Grace Community School and that it is an important part of their student’s education. “Our mission is to help parents educate and encourage kids to influence the world in Christ,” she said.

The school became involved with Parental Care Ministries, founded by Tyler pediatrician Dr. Mark Barret and his wife, Monica, about seven years ago as an outgrowth of that mission. Ms. Carter said the Grace students have become close with the Ugandan students and have formed close relationships with them. “We were able to bring the Ugandan kids over earlier this year in May — it starts with forming these relationships at a grassroots level,” she said.