Brand new kicks for Rock Ridge Elementary

New shoes, socks and backpacks courtesy of Next Level and Samaritan’s Feet

by Virginia Franco

A sea of brand new sneakers, as well as stylish string backpacks, are all the rage at Rock Rest Elementary this month. Students there received these, along with brand new socks and school supplies, as part of an effort coordinated and funded by Next Level Church, with supplies donated by Samaritan’s Feet.
“The children were thrilled,” said Rock Rest Counselor Sandy Coggins, who helped coordinate the project and was equally elated at the sight of 50 Next Level volunteers who arrived with boxes of backpacks filled with school supplies, Converse sneakers and running shoes, along with new socks for some 550 students. The volunteers helped the children size their feet, and put on a pair of new socks and shoes for every last child, she explained.
For many of the children it was the first pair of new shoes they had ever received, explained Next Level Coordinator Melissa Jackson. “I was told that one little girl was so happy she slept in her shoes all night.” While the church has had a relationship with Rock Rest for four years and fully funded the campaign that cost approximately $10 per student, this year’s effort marked the first time volunteers did more than just drop off supplies, according to Jackson.
“Next Level has sort of adopted us,” Coggins said, “They help us with all sorts of projects.” From sponsoring teachers to ensure they have adequate classroom supplies to helping out at Christmas time, “They are working very hard to help our children,” Noggins said. Jackson concurred, noting that church volunteers help out with school uniform shirts, books, and food where needed.  She puts it simply: “This is where we are supposed to be.”
Both Next Level and Samaritan’s Feet have established inspirational goals where giving back to the community is concerned. Next Level’s website notes it wishes to be considered a church of “people who consistently give themselves away.” Helping Rock Rest Elementary is just part of achieving this mission. The shoe drive is “easily something we could do every year,” Jackson said.
Headquartered in Charlotte, the Samaritan’s Feet “Back to Basics” mission is equally lofty. According to their website, the group collects and distributes shoes to more than 300 million children around the world, and their goal is to give 10 million pairs of shoes for 10 million children in the next ten years.

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