By Peter Becker

pbecker@neagle.com

GREENTOWN - Every student at Wallenpaupack Area High School can look forward to being given a new, brand new pair of free shoes as well as socks on a special day just before Thanksgiving. This special gift is being arranged through local churches, expanding on the successful event last fall at the South Elementary School.

Rev. Che’ Weber, pastor, First Assembly of God in Greentown, has coordinated the project from the beginning. This year, Rev. Ken Claflin, pastor, Hamlin Assembly of God, and Rev. Bob Nurenberger, pastor, New Covenant Fellowship, Hawley, are pledging support.

Volunteers from the churches, as well as fire and EMS companies and the State Police, are invited to participate. The PA State Police, Greene-Dreher Fire Department and Newfoundland Ambulance, got behind the Greentown Assembly’s efforts at South Elementary School. 

1,100 pairs

Last year they gave out 325 pairs of shoes and socks to South Elementary children. Weber said that this year they expect to distribute between 1,000 and 1,100 pairs of shoes and socks to the high school students.

Every student will be offered shoes and socks. It matters not their family’s income status or any other matter. Weber commented, “We want to show that are all equally loved and equally valued.”

She has been in touch with High School Principal Jim Kane, who accepted the gesture for the student body, she said.

“We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to provide each of our students with a free pair of shoes,” Kane said. “We would like to thank Pastor Che Weber for thinking of our students and coordinating this terrific event.  WAHS is always looking for ways to support our students and community and this sounds like a great chance to do just that.  I’m excited to learn more about this program and find the best way to make this a reality for our students.” 

National brand shoes

These are all top national brand shoes, Weber said; they are canvas slip-on shoes with rubber soles that she said sell for around $35 to $40. They are being offered free through a special arrangement the General Council of the Assemblies of God has made. Local Assemblies of God churches must meet certain criteria, and apply to their denomination’s relief organization known as Convoy of Hope. Applications for the shoes to distribute to local students are made by the denomination’s churches.

Although only a small rural church, the First Assembly of God in Greentown has been very active in the Greene-Dreher community, she said. She started as pastor here 15 years ago. She said she was surprised to discover that the area has a 52% poverty rate and in the Wallenpaupack Area School District, close to 60% of the students are eligible for the free or reduced lunch prices.

Collection underway

In addition to the shoes and socks, they also plan to give out “goodie bags” of snacks and hygiene items to each student. “We’d like to make a party of it,” she said of the big day when distribution is made.

The Hamlin pastor is taking on the sock collection, she stated. A collection drive is underway for socks, snacks, hygiene items, and gallon-size “baggies” that close up, which they use to package the shoes and socks.

Socks should be adult size, size 6 and up, for boys and girls. Solid, neutral colors are recommended, that would be appropriate for either gender.

The items will be accepted at the three churches, and at the GDS Fair where the Greentown and Hamlin Assemblies of God churches will be sharing a stand.

November 1, 2019 is the cutoff for the donations.

Will measure feet

On a certain day in October, the volunteers will visit the Wallenpaupack Area High School to measure the students’ feet, Weber said, so that appropriate shoes can be ordered for each one.

The volunteers will gather on a second day to fill the bags, and then for the distribution day which Weber said she hopes can be the day before the students go on Thanksgiving break.

Weber noted that they don’t hand out religious literature at the event. “We just want our community to be stronger, healthier and happier,” she said, adding they wish to be “the hands of Christ extended.”

“We’re blessed to have the opportunity and blessed to have the resources,” she said.