The unsheltered population has grown exponentially in Charlotte over the past few years and will likely do the same in 2021 because of the large number of people who live below the poverty line. The largest concentration of unsheltered adults in Charlotte lives within just a couple miles of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church’s doors, and in fact, many seek temporary shelter and services in the shadows of St. Peter’s.
As a church community, we will have a unique opportunity in a few weeks to serve some of these neighbors by partnering with the non-profit Samaritan’s Feet, to provide them with new socks, shoes, toiletries, and notes of encouragement with our own heaping helping of Christ’s love. Instead of the Samaritan’s Feet experience we had planned for Maundy Thursday of this year when we were going to wash the feet of our neighbors from the Men’s Shelter and help them put on a new pair of socks and shoes, this opportunity will be a holiday outreach this season. Vera Green wrote a very touching Sunday morning reflection about our plans, and I was prepared to deliver the Minute for Ministry inviting congregational participation. But because of the pandemic, the Church was closed and we have all had to pivot, doing things in different ways to accomplish the same purpose.
Instead of foot washing, Samaritan’s Feet now offers its partners and sponsors, the opportunity to assemble Hope Totes—drawstring bags with a new pair of shoes and socks, a small hygiene kit with a mask, and personal Hope Notes—that are then delivered to the intended recipients. Thanks to Samaritan’s Feet being selected as one of the non-profits to receive a St. Peter’s grant this year, we will partner with them to assemble and deliver 200 pairs of Hope Totes to our neighbors at three different homeless-serving facilities within our midst: every woman residing at the Salvation Army Center of Hope; every patient recuperating at Samaritan’s House after a hospital stay; and a small number of guests in the Men’s Shelter employment program who need special shoes and steel toe boots when they land a job in restaurants or construction. An employment manager at Roof Above (formerly Men’s Shelter) said the following: “If you haven’t collected a paycheck in a while, a pair of boots might as well be a car. Steel toe boots really are the ticket to work.”
My husband Mark and I have volunteered nearly weekly with Samaritan’s Feet since moving to Charlotte three years ago, and we love it! Headquartered in Charlotte, Samaritan’s Feet began seventeen years ago as a small grassroots organization to meet a simple need. Since their founding, almost eight million children and adults worldwide have received socks and shoes giving them hope for a brighter future, delivered by a stranger. Shoes that most of us take for granted mean a lot to people who don’t have a nice fitting pair. Can they offer hope? Find out more at samaritansfeet.org. We invite you to join us in action and prayer by volunteering to write Hope Notes; joining a small group in safely assembling Hope Totes; and/or delivering them to the agencies who will get the new socks and shoes onto the feet of our brothers and sisters in need. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and contact information if you would like to be involved, and stay tuned for more information.
Barbara Yow, Social Justice Committee
Room Above Wish-List. St. Peter’s Outreach and Social Justice continues to partner with local organizations serving the least among us. Roof Above’s Employment Program Group works with clients from The Men’s Shelter to find employment as a path to self-sufficiency. Some of these jobs are outside. With cooler weather on its way, our neighbors need thermal underwear to stay warm while working. Please consider helping us to provide 20 sets to Roof Above to accompany our work boot project. To help place an order on Roof Above’s wishlist amazon.com.