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Eboni Graham / Amarillo Globe News Containers of new shoes sit in the Shoe Closet warehouse waiting to be given to school children in need. May 9 at Thompson Park, which benefits all of the ministries programs such as the Shoe Closet. The Shoe Closet ministry donates shoes to children across the Amarillo Area in the surrounding school districts such as Amarillo, Bushland, River Road and more.

Eboni Graham / Amarillo Globe News A box of old worn shoes that were once on the feet of local school children have been replaced with new shoes via Mission Amarillo’s Shoe Closet. May 9 at Thompson Park, which benefits all of the ministries programs such as the Shoe Closet. The Shoe Closet ministry donates shoes to children across the Amarillo Area in the surrounding school districts such as Amarillo, Bushland, River Road and more. May 9 at Thompson Memorial Park Area 17, near Thompson Park Lake.

“By participating in Walk a Mile in My Shoes, you not only help us raise the money necessary to be effective, but increase awareness of those in need in our community,” said Mission Amarillo Director Jeff Parsons. “Proceeds from this event help us do ministries like our Apartment Ministry, Affordable Back to School Store and Affordable Christmas Store.”

Missionary Evelyn Lyles will be attending the fundraiser with some of the students from the Apartment Ministry.

“Actually, some of these kids have received shoes from this ministry,” she said. “Many are going just to serve and they know this is for God’s people, so they’re doing it just to help.”

Mission Amarillo has teamed up with local groups to host fun activities at the event.

“Texas Pet Savers will have pets there for adoption, the Potter County Sheriff’s Department will have their drug dog Paris there, and the Amarillo Fire Department will have a firetruck there for everyone to check out,” Parsons said. “Make it Special Promotions is also providing an Elsa and a Spiderman.”

There is no cost to enter as a team. Participants collect money, show up, turn in funds raised, walk and have fun.

Teams can register at the walk, and Big Shoe and Small Shoe sponsorships are still available.

Applications for sponsorships are due Monday.

Founded in November 2010, the ministry’s theme is 1 John 3:18: “Let us not love in word or in thought, but in actions and in truth.”

“Miles of Hope Banquet and Walk a Mile in My Shoes are two fundraisers that give us an opportunity to develop more ministries and new programs,” Parsons said.

One of those new programs is Driven, which started in October.

“Driven is a program where we take young men age 18 to 25 who don’t have a vehicle through eight weeks of mentoring,” Parsons said. “They spend four weeks at the Amarillo College career center going through personality assessments, career planning and financial management.”

Mission Amarillo helps the young men get a bank account and puts them in connection with a social worker at AC to gain access to certain resources. Upon completion of the mentorship program, the participant will receive a title to his own car (worth about $3,000).

“The first year was a lot of trial and error,” said Anthony Watt, youth pastor at Paramount Baptist Church and a Driven mentor. “It was us (him and his mentee) just figuring out our schedules, but it’s highly relational.”

Watt’s mentee was the first to go through the Driven program, and chose to continue the program for the rest of the year.

“We meet twice a month pretty regularly,” Watt said. “At first it was kind of just going through the material, but it’s gotten where we just talk about life together, kiddos, how work is going, and things like that.”

Should the mentee choose to continue to meet with his mentor, Mission Amarillo will buy him a tank of gas every month.

“That’s just kind of an incentive for them to continue to meet with their mentor and not fall out of that relationship because we want them to continue with that mentorship,” Parsons said.

The program will continue until September, break for the holiday months, and start again in January.

“Mission Amarillo, in particular Driven, addresses kind of a grander need, and that’s dealing with men becoming men . what it means to be a dad,” Watt said. “So many other organizations focus on the female or child side, and this is one of the few programs that I’ve been a part of that directly affects the men of this society.”

Meanwhile, at Astoria Park and Palo Duro Place apartments, the children in the Apartment Outreach Ministry are eagerly gearing up and raising money for this year’s walk, according to Lyles.

“They raise money in their neighboring apartments, and some of them collect a quarter. Some will collect $1 and put it all together,” she said. “Some of them can raise quite a bit of money. I’m very impressed with them.”

Mission Amarillo works with nearly 50 schools in Amarillo, Canyon, Bushland, River Road and Highland Park school districts. So far, 891 pairs of shoes have been given away this school year, Parsons said.

“We’re 23 (pairs of shoes) away from an overall 6,500 shoes collected in the Amarillo area since its inception August 2010,” Parsons said. “We’ll probably hit close to 7,000 by the banquet in October. It’s a really exciting time in our ministry, and none of that would be possible without the support from the community.”
marco polo s accomplishments shoe collection help kids in need