I’m running a little behind this week. My husband is on vacation, so while my days are filled with the usual work, we’ve also been working on home improvement projects like refinishing the deck, and entertainment like movies and baseball games. It’s exhausting. As much as I have loved having S around more, I just wish we could have been on vacation at the same time.
One of the things that has been keeping me on my toes is the upcoming Convoy of Hope rally here in the Twin Cities. I’m serving on the organizing team as the lead for children’s shoes. Donations have been rolling in, the planning and red tape are going well, and it’s going to be a great event. So for today’s post I thought I would tell you all about Convoy of Hope as an organization and the upcoming rally here in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Convoy is a faith-based non-profit organization that provides disaster and poverty relief around the world. They are probably best known for the truckloads of supplies they deliver after natural disasters. They also have feeding programs in eleven countries, and dozens of domestic rallies every year that provide immediate physical relief to people in poverty.
Convoy of Hope has an excellent reputation, with a four-star rating from Charity Navigator. They scored 100% in transparency and accountability. They have developed partnerships with churches around the world as well as major corporate partners.
The Twin Cities rally is coming up on Saturday, August 1, at Spring Lake Park High School. Gates open at 10:00 am. Every adult (up to 10,000 people) will receive a ticket that they can redeem for a free bag of groceries as they leave, and a free lunch will be served to everyone. During the event there will be tents where different local organizations will be providing health screenings, pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, job services, and community services. We’re giving away shoes (provided by Toms) for women and children. We’ll be taking family pictures. There is a DJ coming, and a whole kids’ zone filled with games and inflatables. The entire event is free.
Convoy, the local organizing team, and the volunteers who are giving their day to this event hope that the rally brings an infusion of hope and alleviates some of the immediate physical needs of people in our community.
-If you are in need, all you need to do is show up. No one will ask you to apply or qualify for the event. If you have needs, come have them met. Free of charge, and free of judgment. You are our guest of honor.
-If you can spare a few hours to help out that day, we NEED you! My tent, children’s shoes, needs 125 volunteers to organize the inventory, measure little feet, and run shoes to their new owners. Volunteers will be given a free t-shirt and lunch. All volunteers need to be ten or older. Volunteers between 10 and 13 need to be working alongside a parent or guardian. Volunteers between 14 and 18 will need a waiver signed by their parent or guardian. Volunteers over 18 can sign their own waivers J There is a volunteer rally on Friday night at Emmanuel Christian Center (7777 University Ave in Spring Lake Park) where the volunteers will get their shirts and all the details about logistics. If you want to volunteer, all you have to do is come to the rally on Friday and sign up. If you want to be guaranteed that you will be working in the cool tent (kids’ shoes!), let me know and I can get you signed up for my team.
If you don’t live in the Twin Cities area, you can still help out! We need prayer warriors to join us in begging God for good weather. There is no backup rain date, the show goes on as long as the weather isn’t actually unsafe. Pray also that people who need this boost would hear about the event and be able to attend. And if you can’t be here but you want to physically contribute, the kids’ shoes tent needs a few more supplies for the event. Contact me by July 15 and I’ll get you a link to the supplies we need. Convoy is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, so if you do make a financial contribution to the event, it’s tax-deductible.
I am really excited to be a part of this rally. When I was a kid my family went through some lean times. I didn’t get new shoes for back to school. I was lucky if I got them when my old shoes wore out! I remember when I was in 5th or 6th grade, the sole separated from my shoe. As I walked down the hall it went flap. flap. flap. My mom tried several times to repair it with rubber cement, but it just kept flapping. I made light of it; that’s just what I did. But inside, I was embarrassed. I believed that I wasn’t as cool (and dare I say even as valuable) as the other kids because my clothes were off-brand and hand-me-down, my shoes were in terrible shape, and I never got the fancy new school supplies other kids had. I cannot tell you how I coveted the big box of Crayola crayons with the sharpener in the back. God and my parents saw to it that I had my needs met – we never went hungry – but I know how it feels to feel like less. I’m excited to put new shoes on hundreds of kids before they go back to school this fall!
Edited to add:
It occurred to me during my thinking time/commute that I should tell you the rest of the story about my flapping shoe. I was in 5th grade at the time, and my little sisters were 7 and 4. We had been living in a small town for about a year, where my dad was the pastor at his very first church. The church wasn’t doing super well financially, so we weren’t either. On top of that dad had his brand new bible college (read: private university tuition) student loans to pay for. Our needs were met, but that was pretty much it.
So I was in 5th grade, wearing a cheap pair of shoes that I was undoubtedly hard on. I was one of those active, forgetful kids who was hard on things. I remember being surprised that the sole of my shoe was letting go so soon after we bought them. I knew my mom would be upset, but I also remember picking at it, because 11 year olds are neither wise nor terribly smart… So as I mentioned above, the sole of my shoe was hanging on by a thread, and everywhere I went it made a slapping flapping sound. I played it off as a joke. I made it flap loudly on purpose. It’s a shell game, a defense mechanism that kids use. If I make my embarrassing thing a joke, then you won’t judge me about it. In theory.
But it was basketball season, which made it that much harder. I was terrible at basketball. Really, really, terrible. But I played in 5, 6, and 7th grade because that’s just what we did. I rode in the bus and sat on the bench and practiced, but that was about it. And I did that in my messed up shoe. I’m not sure why I didn’t give up basketball; the clues were all there that this was not for me, and I didn’t harbor any delusions of becoming good at it. But I had to be strong and funny and as much like everyone else as I could be.
A couple weeks into the season, my mom showed up at practice. This was the 80s, maybe 1990 at the latest. Moms did not come to sports practice. They were at home dust bustering or something. The coach whistled and waved me over to mom, who had a shoe box in her hands and an eager look on her face. “Here,” she said, “this just came in the mail.” I lifted the lid to find a pair of white high top LA Gear tennis shoes with peach and pastel green trim. To this day I don’t know if my parents ordered them from the Sears catalog or if one of my grandmas sent them, but they were my first pair of real, kind-of name brand shoes (LA Gear was cool for a short time and then faded into pop culture history with Girbaud jeans and big hair). I clearly remember how I felt – the surge of self-esteem and joy at the newly leveled playing field. Am I dramatizing? A bit; it’s hard to make words that describe that fleeting lift. The shoes didn’t make me good at basketball (they weren’t magic). But they gave me a boost up from “mockable” to “normal.”
As an adult I regret that it mattered that much to me. I know that my true worth is not based on brands or fads, and I abused, wore out, and outgrew the new shoes too. I’m sorry that my goal in life was to blend in and be normal. But for kids, especially those in the tween/teen phase, “normal” and blending in really matter. Perhaps you’ll be happy to know that my son doesn’t get new shoes for back to school just because it’s fall. He gets them when he wears out or outgrows his current pair. I did get him new crayons every fall during elementary school, but it was the typical 24 pack, not the mega box with the sharpener. As Mary Poppins said, “Enough is as good as a feast,” and perhaps because I remember, I am satisfied to provide J with “enough.”