Columbia church, Samaritan’s Feet give kids ‘launching pad’ for successful school year

Nearly 200 kids left Brown Chapel AME Church on Saturday wiggling their toes and jumping up and down in brand-new shoes.

The back-to-school shoe giveaway was made possible by church members and Samaritan’s Feet International, a nonprofit seeking to outfit every underprivileged child in the world with shoes. The organization has provided shoes to 6.5 million kids in 75 nations since 2003.

New shoes bring big smiles. (photo by Rachel Ham)

New shoes bring big smiles. (photo by Rachel Ham)

Saturday’s shoe distribution in Columbia was part of the Samaritan’s Feet 2015 Back to School program during which 31,000 pairs of shoes and socks will be given away across the country.

Brown Chapel AME Pastor Moses Rembert said the purpose of Samaritan’s Feet attracted him the cause several years ago and led him to form a partnership to hold shoe giveaways at his church.

“I grew up with no shoes or hand-me-down shoes myself,” he said.

Church members gathered and donated gently-used shoes to send to Samaritan’s Feet and were able to purchase new shoes at a wholesale rate through the organization to give to the kids in their community.

“This gives them something new for school … and eliminates that distraction to learning … The shoes are a launching pad for the new year,” Rembert said.

Peggy Fleming brought her four grandchildren, who are in first through sixth grade, to pick up new shoes. She also volunteered during the event.

“They go through (shoes) so fast,” she said.

Volunteers took the extra step of washing each child's feet. (photo by Rachel Ham)

Volunteers took the extra step to wash each child’s feet. (photo by Rachel Ham)

Before putting on the new shoes, congregation members and community volunteers washed each child’s feet, part of the Samaritan’s Feet service-first model.

“We are showing that the greatest position you can have is a servant,” Rembert said.

Rembert said the kids enjoyed what was likely their first foot washing.

“It shows an extra level of care,” Fleming said.

Brown Chapel AME Church also will distribute new shoes to kids at a nearby child development center and the state Department of Social Services. Visit for more on donating financially or shoes.

Categories: Local News