Samaritan’s Feet: Shoe giveaway reaches 280 needy residents

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

For the fifth year, community members joined together to provide Carroll County kids with shoes. The families patiently stood in line, waiting until volunteers led them into a room with shoes neatly arranged on white tables. Once in the room, the volunteers washed the kids’ feet and found shoes to fit them.

Tina Linenbram brought nine grandkids to the shoe giveaway from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 12, at the Eureka Springs High School.

“I think it’s a great idea,” she said.

Tina Linenbram said the event helps families as they’re getting ready to send their kids back to school.

“I think that the event is kind of cool because they’re giving free shoes to people who can’t afford them,” said Rick Linenbram, one of Tina’s grandchildren who got shoes Sunday.

Another grandson, Kenneth Linenbram, said the event was very helpful to the community and provided resources students need.

This year, volunteers with Eureka Springs Rotary Club, Eureka Springs High School Rotary Interact Club and the Krewe of Krazo worked to give away 280 shoes to children, and sometimes adults, who needed them, said Cathy Handley, who started the shoe giveaway five years ago.

“I just think we need to give help to people who don’t have anything, and we live in a community where poverty is a problem,” Handley said.

The shoe giveaway is through Samaritan’s Feet, an international organization that has served about 7 million people worldwide, said Graham Gibbs, the executive director of U.S. projects and operations for Samaritan’s Feet.

The group’s founder, Manny  Ohonme, is a Nigerian man who started the organization 15 years ago. Gibbs said Ohonme began Samaritan’s Feet after he had an experience with a missionary that changed his life.

During Samaritan’s Feet events, Gibbs said, volunteers wash children’s feet in reference to Jesus washing his disciples’ feet but also because it gives them the opportunity to talk to the kids and share a smile.

“This experience is so unique that these children will probably never forget,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs and Handley met on a mission trip to South Africa, where she learned about Samaritan’s Feet. After that, Handley said she decided to start a branch in Eureka Springs. Since then, the organization has donated about 250 shoes a year to families in Carroll County, Handley said.

Handley said the volunteers give the leftover shoes to school counselors who then give them away throughout the school year.

Gibbs also attended shoe giveaways in Springdale, which gave away 535 shoes, and Bentonville, which gave away 200 shoes, he said. He lives in Springdale and travels internationally, attending events like the one in Eureka Springs.

The Eureka Springs Rotary Club raised money for the shoe giveaway through the Victorian Classic Foot Race. The club has been involved with the giveaway since it began, Rotary President Allen Huffman said.

Interact Club President Makenzie Meyer said she likes being a part of the event because giving kids a new pair of shoes gives them more confidence.

“Well for me personally, I love helping kids,” Meyer said.

The Interact Club has been involved with the event for the past three years, club member Carson Mowrey said.

“This is making sure our kids are taken care of in our community,” Huffman said.

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