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story.lead_photo.caption Photo by Mike Eckels Two volunteers from Walmart Distribution Center 6051 in Bentonville talked to a pair of students during the Samaritan’s Feet distribution at Decatur Northside Elementary School Oct. 28. Walmart DC 6051 and Samaritan’s Feet donated a new pair of socks and shoes to each student at the school.

DECATUR--Nothing is more satisfying than a warm foot message, a fresh pair of socks and new shoes to start a day. This is what students at a local elementary school experienced as they walked into their classroom last Friday.

Samaritan's Feet in Springdale, which partnered with Walmart Distribution Center 6051 in Bentonville, was at Decatur Northside Elementary school Oct. 28 to bring a new pair of socks and shoes to every student.

Graham Gibbs, executive director of Samaritan's Feet in Springdale, was on hand to oversee the distribution of more than 200 pairs of shoes and socks by more than 30 volunteers.

"Today we are partnering with Walmart, which is providing the funding and volunteers," said Gibbs."We are serving these kids in a very unique way. With the economy the way it is today, it is hard for kids to get new shoes; and some of them really needed these shoes."

But Samaritan's feet is more than new shoes; it is about getting to know the kids and to show that they are important.

"We don't just hand the kids the shoes; we wash their feet. There is a biblical significance to that," Gibbs said. "But more that that, the experience is something the kids will never forget. So we have a memory point that we can fill with inspiration, encouragement and all those things that can change a child's life."

The organization was founded by Emmanuel "Manny" Ohonme. Over 30 years ago, as a young African boy from Lagos, Nigeria, Manny was approached by a missionary from the United States who encouraged him to enter a contest for a new pair of shoes. He won the contest and, on a hot summer day, the missionary sat down with Manny and did more than give him the shoes he won. He sat down and interacted with the impressionable young boy. The missionary encouraged him to believe in his dreams and never give up.

Years later, Manny won a full basketball scholarship at a college in the United States. He later earned a bachelor's and master's degree in the technology industry. As his career grew, Manny decided to share his good fortune with, not only his countrymen in Nigeria, but the less fortunate in this country. Along with his wife Tracie, Manny started the organization in 2003. Since that time, Samaritan's Feet has given more than 6 million pairs of shoes to those in need.

The volunteers from Walmart DC 6051 spent at least five minutes with each of their charges, washing their feet, putting on a clean pair of socks and new shoes, all the while getting to know each child. The hope of each volunteer was that each child would come away from this experience with a new-found confidence and hope for a promising future -- a chance to give back to Decatur.

For the students of Decatur Northside Elementary, the experience provided new shoes and a chance at a bright future through a positive interaction with those who care. For the volunteers of Walmart DC 6051, the chance to give something back to the community has also given each a strong sense of importance as well.

General News on 11/02/2016

Print Headline: Northside students receive new shoes

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