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Church buying shoes for kids at three WV schools

Journal photo by Katiann Marshall  CenterPointe Church volunteer Jay Sloanker helps kindergartener Raziel Garcia put on his new shoes Tuesday morning at Burke Street Elementary.
Journal photo by Katiann Marshall
CenterPointe Church volunteer Jay Sloanker helps kindergartener Raziel Garcia put on his new shoes Tuesday morning at Burke Street Elementary.

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — CenterPointe Church kicked off the second year of its New Shoes Initiative on Tuesday morning at Burke Street Elementary School. This year the New Shoes Initiative is putting over 500 new pairs of socks and shoes on every boy and girl at three elementary schools in Berkeley County.

A team of eight volunteers from the church visited Burke Street Tuesday morning to deliver the socks and shoes to the students. Volunteers handed out red CenterPointe drawstring backpacks that included a pair of socks and the child’s sneakers inside.

The team will then visit Back Creek Elementary School at 9 a.m. Friday, followed by Winchester Avenue Elementary School at 12:30 p.m. to distribute the remaining packages to the students.

Last month, volunteers from the Finish Line in Martinsburg came out to each of the schools to measure each child’s foot to ensure the church would order the correct size.

“The intent is to meet the needs, a tangible need, in the community,” said Pastor Nick Scott.

“Last year we saw that there were students who were wearing shoes that were three, four sizes too small, shoes that were falling apart because they were hand-me-down shoes and shoes that were out of season. They had kids who, in the fall, were already wearing snow boots because that’s the shoes they had that fit,” Scott added.

Scott said this initiative goes beyond just giving these children a new pair of shoes.

“We want to make sure that kids know that they are loved, valued and appreciated, so that’s what we are doing for the students,” Scott said.

This year, the organization put together cards with $25 Applebee’s gift cards in them for every staff person in the schools. The Chick-Fil-A cow also made an appearance. He was dressed like Santa Claus and was handing out coupons for a free peppermint milkshake to everyone.

This is the second year the church has done this for students at Winchester Avenue Elementary and Burke Street Elementary, but this will be the first year the church is including Back Creek Elementary in the program.

“Last year we brought a team together to talk about where are the impoverished areas in our city and county. We have different people who work at various levels of the school district and they were able to identify schools of need,” Scott said.

Scott said they determined that Back Creek would be another school that would benefit from this program.

“That’s another community that is half and half. You’ve got people who have a lot of money who just bought property out in the middle of nowhere to get away, but then you have the people, who for them in their mind, that’s as good as it gets. So we want to make sure that people understand that they might feel right now like life is as good as it gets, but there is always something better in store,” Scott said.

All shoes were purchased through Finish Line with offering money the church receives on Sundays.

“We want to be a group of people that just gets out and just meets the needs of the community. It’s not like there are strings attached or we are doing this to get something else; we literally just want to help and meet tangible needs,” Scott said.

Scott said he and his wife Tracy started CenterPointe Church in their living room two years ago, and that they wanted to create a church who truly makes a difference in its community and strives to do good.

“One of our core values is that we embrace a culture of generosity. I don’t have a background, I didn’t grow up in church, but when I got plugged into a church I always felt like the church was always asking for money and it was more to take care of inside and I just didn’t think it seemed right; it didn’t seemed like the way a church should be built,” Scott said.

“When I look back on Jesus, I see him meeting needs in the community. We see God as the source, but we are the outlet. Whatever God gives to us, we want to give back. As much as he blesses us, we can’t turn around and bless as many like he blesses us, but we are going to try,” Scott added.

Todd Cutlip, principal at Burke Street Elementary, said this program not only meets the needs of his students, it teaches them a lesson about kindness as well.

“It’s an awesome program; it teaches the kids to give to others and teaches goodwill,” Cutlip said.

“We want to make sure that all of our students are very appreciative of what they are getting. We appreciate what the church does for our students. Our students aren’t the most fortunate kids who come from families that may be able to provide brand new shoes when they need them, so it’s a big help to our parents as well,” Cutlip added.

“I love them,” said kindergartener James Vandevender. “It’s really nice of them.”

Kindergartener Trevor White was really excited about receiving his new shoes. “Blue is my favorite color, I like them,” he said.

Scott said he has three kids of his own, so he understands that not only are shoes a basic need, but he wanted to think of a way to encourage kids to be active.

“We got shoes that are athletic shoes; we want kids to get outside. When I was a kid, I swear I had P.E. every day, and now kids have it once a week, so we want to make sure that kids also have a healthy lifestyle and when they are wearing shoes that are too small, they just physically cannot live an active lifestyle,” Scott said.

It is the church’s hope that the gesture not only makes students feel loved, but that it will make a lasting impression on them.

“I think this shows them that somebody cares. I always think back to when I was a kid and when you receive something that’s new and is a gift to you, you immediately identify that person as someone who cares, as someone you can trust and someone who wants the best for you, and that’s what we want these kids to know that their life matters and that we think that they are important,” Scott said.

“And at this age that’s what they need. At this developmental age it’s too easy for them to fall into early childhood depression or maybe mom and dad don’t have a good relationship, so that carries over to my relationships everywhere, or my dad isn’t around, so I feel like I can’t trust men. We just want to have a positive influence in their lives,” Scott added.

The church says that each year they are hoping to add a new school and in the future it hopes to branch out into different counties and it hopes that their generosity with the New Shoes Intiative inspires other churches to do the same thing.

For more information on CenterPointe Church and its New Shoes Initiative, visit www.centerpointe.tv or call 304-279-7233.

Staff writer Katiann Marshall can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 182, or at Twitter.com/KmarshallJN.

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