August 30, 2010

Guinness World Record for the Longest Chain of Shoes

By Jennifer Gribble, South Main Member & Marketing Coordinator on August 21, 2010 after the Sole Chain event.

Well, it’s 6:37 p.m. and I have been struggling for a few hours to find the words to describe my experience today at the Sole Chain – Shoes for Orphan Souls event.

For those of you who don’t know, South Main Baptist Church broke the Guinness World Record today for the Longest Chain of Shoes.  20,110 were laid out in the church parking lot in Houston.  Over 100 volunteers worked from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. to lay out the shoes, tie them together, pack the shoes, and then load them up on a truck that is going to Buckner International’s warehouse in Dallas.  Buckner uses these new shoes as a part of the Shoes for Orphan Souls project.

I found myself driving home from the event this afternoon in complete silence (not the usual for me as I like to “rock out” when I drive) and the tears just started falling down my cheeks.  I didn’t know why but I was just crying.  I kept trying to figure out what was causing the tears and I realized that I am just overwhelmed.

I am overwhelmed…

by the generosity of South Main Baptist Church’s members.

by the Houston community who showed up to bring a pair of shoes and lend a hand in placing and packing the shoes.

the willingness of people to give up their Saturday to sweat in 110 degree heat index temperatures on a concrete parking lot.

that 10,055 orphans that will be blessed by these donations.

by the homeless man that came by to ask what was going on and then donated $5 to the cause.

by the commraderie shown by all the volunteers today.

by the people stay until ALL the work is done…the truck is packed, the trash is picked up, everything is loaded up.

most of all, by the emotion that changing the lives of so many orphans brings to me.

I have been a small part of the shoe drive since we joined South Main in 2001.  This year, as the Marketing Coordinator at South Main, Sole Chain has been my focus at work over the past few months.  I have spent hours and hours getting ready for the event, calling media, getting “coverage” for our event.  All important tasks, but when it comes down to it, the real work is done by our volunteers who slaved away in the hot sun today.

Sole Chain is so much more than a publicity stunt.  This is about the kids.  I had to look through my 20+ pairs of shoes this morning to decide which pair of shoes that I would wear today.  The children that receive these shoes don’t have any.  This one pair of shoes will change their lives. It is as simple as that.  Simple, but oh so deep.

My experience today has changed me.  Softened my heart, opened my eyes, touched my soul.  I just don’t know if I can find the words to describe it all.  I would love for you to share your words from the event if you were there today with us all.

It was an amazing day.

Send shoes.  See smiles.  Save souls.



Reflections on Peru

January 5, 2010

By Chelsea Wade, Buckner Ministries Coordinator at South Main Baptist Church.  Chelsea visited Peru from December 4-13, 2009.

During the first orphanage visit a fellow participant asked me who my favorite was. I said that I wanted to spend time with as many children as possible and that I didn’t have one. After listening to my response he reiterated: “You always have a favorite”. There were certainly children that took my hand for reasons that I can’t explain. At times they smiled at me with so much joy that I became overwhelmed. I have no doubt that I was placed there for divine reasons. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say “You’ll always become a favorite”.

Chronicling my experiences was a bit difficult for this trip. I usually enjoy writing journal entries but this method seemed futile for this experience. I found myself summarizing the itinerary instead of taking an introspective approach. I opted to e-mail friends and family tidbits about emotions and observations. After re-reading these conversations I’ve decided that they give an accurate representation of my personal growth.

Here at South Main the concept of community is emphasized in activities. I’ve become much more aware of what we can accomplish together and learn from each other in community settings.  My awareness of community was certainly increased during this trip. I had the opportunity to function as an extension of South Main and as a Buckner employee. In addition I got to work alongside others to accomplish a common goal: showing God’s love.

When the trip was coming to a close, we discussed the challenge of describing our experience. How could we effectively communicate the happiness that the children felt? How could we explain the changes in our hearts? How could we show that we have been humbled? I suggested that those around us will learn about experience from our actions. I added that I couldn’t wait to step off the plane and be a different person that I was before leaving…thank God.

God’s Hand Revealed – By Maggie Hill

October 25, 2009

Shoe pileKatrina had just ripped through New Orleans and many survivors were camped out in Reliant Stadium. My husband Henry contacted Mike Williams of St. Lukes Hospital. He was in charge of the “goings on” at Reliant. Henry ask if they had a need for shoes for the children. Mike assured us that there was.

Henry and I rented a truck and drove to Dallas to the Buckner  Ministries shoe distribution center. The workers filled the truck with new shoes, socks and teddy bears.
The next morning when we arrived at Reliant we noticed signs on the fence stating that no more donations were needed. Henry called Mike and he said that there was still a big need for shoes and directed us through several check points to the gate that would lead to a loading dock. He met us there and invited us in to see the sorry selection of shoes available. I declined and said I would wait with the truck.
As I waited, a lady pushing a cart came up to me and ask if we might have some ladies underwear in our truck. She shared with me that she was from California and that her husband was a medical doctor. When he heard about the situation in Houston he had decided to come to Houston and see how they could help.  That morning he was working in triage and after treating a patient all bedding and clothing were discarded. She had been sent out to collect things they needed and she had been successful in her search except for the womans underwear.

As she was talking I was watching a black limo pull up to an unmaned gate. I was puzzled as the driver got out, opened the gate and drove over to the loading dock.  Two men in black suits and sunglasses with large shopping bags under their arms walked over to us and one said, “I don’t know what this is about but as I left home this morning my wife gave me these and told me to bring them to Reliant.”  We opened the bags and found they were filled with ladies underwear.

My new friend and I did not miss this GOD WINK.

Since her mission was complete she moved on her way.

The next morning on the front page on the Houston Chronicle was a picture of a little girl boarding the school bus at Reliant with a teddy bear in her arms.  I couldn’t see her feet, but I am sure she was wearing new shoes.

God’s Hand Revealed – By Chelsea Wade

October 24, 2009

By Chelsea Wade, Buckner Ministries Coordinator

By Chelsea Wade, Buckner Ministries Coordinator

Some of the best things about walking on this Earth are the extraordinary moments that result from ordinary events. I have the opportunity to work with a great group of high school students three days a week. My duties each day include: mediator, snack-server, listening ear, and even proofreader.

Each day brings a new challenge and a new breakthrough so I always look forward to the next one. When the students are content they exude immense amounts of excitement. The consistency provided contributes to their comfort as well. Classes might be difficult and dynamics with friends may change but the After School Program has smiling faces and activities.

I feel particularly connected to the students because I can understand what high school was like. I am proud that they could be anywhere else but they look forward to “the church”. This moniker captures all that South Main is for these students. We are “the church” where students race to arrive. This is “the church” that students tell their friends about.

When I think about my vision for the program I hope to create a strong support system with resources and activities that students look forward to. I also hope that students can reflect on their time at the After School Program with fond memories. I also plan to reflect on the reminders of God’s presence.

Around 6:45 p.m. on a Thursday the last few students were headed out the door. I heard a combination of the phrases “Have a good weekend!” and “Bye, Miss Chelsea!” before one student said “God bless you, Chelsea.” I must have paused for at least ten seconds. He and I have never had a single discussion about God but I do not doubt his sincerity. The words seemed to linger in the air after everyone left. I smiled because the progress made is undeniable. This program exists for a reason and the students are grasping our mission of love. That day I received a blessing that I never expected: assurance.  Every student may not have a strong understanding of what faith is but they certainly know that we care.

New shoes are good for the soul.

September 4, 2009

Shoes for Orphans SoulsYours and theirs.

South Main’s “Shoes for Orphan Souls” effort providing new shoes and socks to orphan children around the world is coming to an end for the year. These children are often filled with a sense of hopelessness as the years have passed and no parents have come to take them home. South Mainers have shown that they care by having sent over 55,000 pairs of new shoes the past few years (over 15,000 pairs last year alone). Every gift can make a difference in a child’s life.

We need your help in packing boxes this Sunday around noon. Please join us in the Welcome Center as we finish the shoe packing and load up the big truck!  There is a place for everyone to serve.  Please join us.

There are hurting children everywhere…

August 3, 2009

happyshoepicToday, there are more than 143 million orphans around the globe. Children without a voice… children who need love. There are children in crisis who need safety… who need care. Buckner provides an array of services to meet the needs of children around the world. Shoes for Orphan Souls is Buckner International’s largest humanitarian aid project, collecting and distributing more than 1.8 million pairs of new shoes since its inception in 1999. South Main Baptist Church began its participation in 2000. Through the generous support of members, South Main has contributed over 55,000 pairs of new shoes toward the project. This generosity has helped children around the world experience God’s love and hope.

Once again, you can make a difference in a child’s life.

New shoes can now be brought to the Welcome Center at South Main Baptist Church. If you prefer to make a cash donation, you may do so by writing a check to South Main and indicating that it’s for “Buckner Shoes.”

 Contact Henry Hill at 713-829-3989 for more information.


Buckner Spotlight on Students: Take 1

July 30, 2009

destinyDestiny R. Davis is a native Houstonian and a regular attendee of the Buckner After School/Summer Program. She has a younger brother named Dedrick and she resides with her Grandmother. She has been a member of Jordan Grove Baptist Church since the 6th grade. Destiny will be entering the 11th grade this fall. Her favorite subjects are Science and English. She plans to continue her studies in English, Spanish, Chinese, and American Sign Language in the immediate future. 

What are your plans after graduation?

To go to college to study medicine or law, and a foreign language.

What would your ideal college be like?

Freshmen would have to stay on campus so they wouldn’t miss out on any experiences. Shuttles would be readily available, there would be plenty of work study jobs and internship opportunities, small to medium class sizes, and a greenhouse!

What are your hobbies?

Singing in the church choir, reading novels (fiction, romance, and mystery), writing short stories that turn into long stories, poetry, learning about different cultures, baking cakes, and fusion cooking (like chicken fried rice and quesadillas), and adding to my diary.

What are your favorite foods?

Nachos, hot dogs, chili cheese fries, quesadillas, Mississippi Mud Cake, crawfish, apples, peaches, watermelon, green beans, and cabbage!

Are you afraid of anything in particular?

Flying cockroaches and spoiled milk….sooooo gross!

What is your favorite Bible verse?

Psalm 23:4

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

What are some of your favorite things about the Buckner After School/Summer Program?

It’s a good time for social interaction, the atmosphere is friendly, there’s plenty of laughter, two pianos, and I feel comfortable with the volunteers, participants, and the coordinator because she connects with us. But I’m still waiting for her to make more nachos!

What are you looking forward to?

Taking an English course at the Houston Community College (because it’s more challenging), brushing up on Guitar Hero, and more trips to the Galleria!

To meet Destiny and other students, join us in volunteering for the Buckner Summer Program on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 3:30-6:00 p.m. Contact Chelsea Wade at cwade@buckner.org or 713-529-4167 ext. 311 for more information.

To learn more about South Main Baptist Church, go to www.smbc.org