From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Presbyterian Shoes Program Is on The Right Foot For 1996
04 May 1996 20:51:42
95461 Presbyterian Shoes Program Is on The Right Foot For 1996
by Julian Shipp
LUBBOCK, Texas--A Presbyterian shoes program that received national
recognition last summer from the Coalition on Education Initiatives and
"USA TODAY" newspaper, has been extended and expanded for 1996. Articles
about the program appeared earlier this year in "THE NEWS of the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)," "News Briefs" and "Presbyterians Today"
"Presbyterian Shoes--Go for It!" is designed to persuade elementary
school students to keep away from drugs and the quick-money lifestyle of
drug dealers. Officially launched Jan. 9, 1995, the program was spearheaded
by the session of Messiah Presbyterian Church in Lubbock, Texas, the only
African American congregation in Palo Duro Presbytery.
For children living in the at-risk, east side neighborhood of Lubbock
where the church is located, obtaining expensive athletic shoes often means
resorting to criminal activity like selling drugs, stealing or assaulting
other children who have the coveted footgear. Kids who distribute or sell
drugs to buy top dollar shoes that other kids not involved in illegal
activity only wish they could afford.
"P.S.--Go for It!" awards children shoes for being outstanding
students, athletes or citizens. Selected by their teachers, the winning
students each receive a certificate, which they take to Footlocker or Kids
Footlocker (located in their local mall) and use to purchase any pair of
shoes they desire.
"P.S.--Go for It!" was conceived in June 1994 during a meeting of
Iles Elementary School's Community Involvement Committee. The school's
principal and staff assist the 21-member congregation in conducting the
"The program has certainly given our church a different profile in the
city in regards to things that are going on with education," said the Rev.
Pam Powell, pastor of Messiah Presbyterian Church. "And I think that's
wonderful and real appropriate for Presbyterians."
Powell said following the success of the program at Iles Elementary
School, she and her congregation were asked to adopt three other schools.
She said they selected Parkway Elementary School last August because,
according to school district officials, it ranked among the highest in the
number of underprivileged students and among the lowest in test scores
during 1993 and 1994.
Ellen Desrosiers, Parkway Elementary School principal, said the school
held its first awards ceremony Dec. 12 and 42 students received shoes.
Desrosiers said she believes the program will become a positive motivating
factor in some students' academic and personal lives.
"It's wonderful to see the community involved and taking interest in
the children," Desrosiers said. "And I see it as a very positive thing at
Suzanne Christopher, Iles Elementary School principal, said the latest
shoes awards ceremony was held at her school Dec. 14. Teachers, students
and staff are eagerly anticipating the next awards ceremony May 16.
"It's been great -- my teachers and faculty have loved it,"
Christopher said. "The parents as well as the boys and girls are excited
Church officials apparently are enthusiastic about "P.S.--Go for It!"
too. A Palo Duro Presbytery spokesperson said the program received $1,000
from the presbytery in 1995 and has been designated a "permanently
supported mission to receive $1,000 per year." The 1995 General Assembly
authorized the presbytery to receive an additional $1,000 for the shoes
program from the office of Health Ministries U.S.A. in the National
The Rev. David Zuverink, associate for Health Ministries U.S.A. in the
National Ministries Division, said he hopes the program will become a
catalyst for the church and the community it serves to begin to address
systemic problems associated with the drug culture, such as crime and
"This program fills a variety of needs," Powell said. "In some cases
we've given a pair of shoes to a very well-off child who has simply been
encouraged. In another case, we awarded shoes to two brothers, although we
didn't know that at the time because they were in two different classrooms.
I later got a letter from their mother who said she had 11 children and
that we had just provided shoes for two of her 11."
Powell said local Presbyterians and others, "encouraged by the fact
that something positive is being done," are also donating monthly to the
program. To help "P.S.--Go for It!" grow even further, Powell said, she has
requested a grant from Presbyterian Women. She said she will not know of
its status until April.
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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