From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Presbyterian Shoes Program Is on The Right Foot For 1996

Date 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 
this point."  
     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 
about it." 
     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 
Ministries Division. 
     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   Web page: 


Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home