When 7-year-old Eustace native Rachel Beets asked her mother for more shoes for her birthday, her mother didn’t understand.
“I said, ‘Rachel, you have plenty of shoes,” Amanda Beets said with a laugh.
But the shoes weren’t for Rachel. She wanted to spend her birthday delivering shoes to Child Protective Services to donate to children who don’t have any.
“I used to work across the hall from the CPS office,” Mrs. Beets said. “The only thing I can figure out is that Rachel heard me telling my husband how sad it was when a child came in with nothing but underwear on. People think that doesn’t happen, but it happens all the time.”
For months, the family has been passing out fliers and talking to friends and family. So far, they’ve collected 750 pairs of shoes.
“It went bigger than I expected,” Mrs. Beets said. “It just blew up.”
Rachel has loved shoes since she was 5, she said. She intended to collect tennis shoes — “fast runners,” she calls them — but has gotten a variety of all kinds of shoes for all occasions.
So, for Rachel’s 8th birthday on Jan. 31, she and her family will deliver 900 pairs of shoes to the CPS Rainbow Room, which the agency uses to outfit children in need.
“When I first asked her how many she wanted, I thought it would be easy to get friends and family to do it,” Mrs. Beets said. “But then she said she wanted 900 shoes. But I didn’t say, ‘We can’t do that.’ I didn’t want to show her that I didn’t have faith.”
And their faith is what Mrs. Beets credits Rachel’s attitude to.
“We dedicated all our kids when they were babies,” she said. “We asked God to use our kids. Never did I think it would happen at age 7, I thought God would start using them 20 years from now… I’ll never forget sitting in my living room and God said ‘Why are you waiting 20 years? Let her make a difference now.’ At first I was afraid of failure, but she never was.”
Never underestimate the power of a child with a big heart.
Today, Property of God Ministries, a biker-friendly church in Eustace, is hosting “Ride for the Shoes,” an event where people can ride on volunteers’ motorcycle in exchange for bringing a pair of new children’s shoes for Rachel’s cause. Tomorrow, several area churches are gathering shoes to donate. Call 903-288-6471 for more information.