The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local News

April 15, 2012

A Day Without Shoes

Neches students raise awareness, learn lesson on helping others

PALESTINE — Thanks to the effort of almost 300 Neches students, TOMS Shoes will be donating 50 pairs of shoes to children in Africa.

“Neches Junior High was the area’s forerunner on this world-wide event,” said Lisa Harroff, local event organizer and Neches Junior High teacher.

On Tuesday, April 10, students in kindergarten though eighth grade went barefoot to raise awareness for TOMS’ “A Day Without Shoes” program.

“Neches just wanted to make Anderson County aware of this event,” Harroff said. “No one is wearing shoes at school today. Most of the Junior High School students also decorated t-shirts to help raise awareness.”

With messages like, “One day can change a life,” “No shoes, no glory,” “Ask me about my feet,” and “Walk a mile without their shoes,” students at Neches Junior High wore their hand-painted white t-shirts proudly.

“It was so moving that those kids were so willing to do it,” Harroff said Tuesday.

Some of the students realized that going without shoes is not always comfortable.

“The kids began to realize how difficult it is to go without shoes as the day went on,” Harroff explained. “They had to play kickball without shoes today. And some of them said the stickers (in the grass) hurt.”

Harroff reminded the students that their effort was going to change and improve the lives of children in Africa who would be receiving a new pair of shoes thanks to their participation in the nationwide event.

“In Africa, kids can’t go to school without shoes. No shoes means no school, no education, and the pattern just repeats itself,”  Harroff explained.

“I’m very proud of Neches and these students,” she continued. “By participating in this, the students learned that one day can change a life.

“The kids raised awareness of the impact that one pair of shoes can have in a child’s life. In Africa, millions go without shoes and are exposed to injury and disease every day.”

In addition to students, teachers and coaches, administration members also participated in Tuesday’s A Day Without Shoes event.

Neches Junior High English teacher Lacie Sloan’s shirt read, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news,” from Romans 10:15.

Other teachers wearing decorated shirts and no shoes were Cheryl Lackey, Ben Lassiter, Jamie Miller, Lance Satterwhite, Keri Rhone and Rick Seymour. Even principal Kim Snider went without shoes all day.

Harroff was pleased with the overall participation from Neches students and faculty. She hoped that the 50 pairs of shoes TOMS will send to Africa because of Neches’ efforts will go to the village she visited last summer.

Last year, Harroff traveled to Nyamandiovu, Zimbabwe, Africa on a medical and teaching mission trip with members of her church, Court Drive Church of Christ.

“The pastor, Paul Jones took a team of us to Africa. People in this village were suffering from drought, famine and poverty,” Harroff recalled.

The Neches teacher has emailed the TOMS company in hopes that it sends the 50 pairs of shoes earned by Neches students to this village.

“Whether they send them there or not TOMS will send shoes to Africa because of what these Neches students did. This whole day was about awareness and educating people,” Harroff said. “There are so many hurting places in our world. We are hoping and praying they will send our shoes to Nyamandiovu. But, wherever they are sent, we do know that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves and the children who receive the shoes will be so grateful.”

Harroff is already looking ahead to next year.

“We hope to do this every year,” she said. “It’s an annual event that we want to be a part of.”

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