Exeter school children get new pair of shoes
Rural Compassion organization seeks to fill needs
During the last week of school, Exeter school children got an unexpected surprise -- a new pair of shoes.
Parents sent children to school in one pair of shoes, and they returned, in another, additional pair, thanks to a partnership between Exeter Assembly of God, a local church pastored by James Alverson, Convoy of Hope, and Rural Compassion.
About 325 children in the district received a brand new pair of shoes to take home.
"Convoy of Hope out of Springfield as a partnership with Rural Compassion that donates shoes to rural areas," said Tim Jordan, Exeter Elementary principal. "This year, the Exeter Assembly of God Church applied for this program for the Exeter school-age students. Every child in the school district had the opportunity to receive a pair of shoes from this organization."
Alverson, his wife, daughter, and a church member delivered the shoes to the children, who were sized to make sure the shoes were a good fit.
"We had an assembly to recognize the Alverson and their church for this special gift that was provided to our students," Jordan said. "This is just another example of how our community partners with our school district to support students."
The shoes were a versatile, loafer-type shoe that can be worn with a variety of outfits. The company that donated the shoes requested to remain anonymous.
As any parent or teacher can attest, young children, especially, go through shoes quickly.
"There are times when the kids have their shoes all torn up," Alverson said. "They were excited to get them."
Alverson has pastored the church for five years, and drives a school bus for the Exeter district. He has also driven for the Southwest school district.
According to Alverson, Rural Compassion has a hand, and foot, in helping many rural communities with practical, everyday needs.
"They are a break-off of Convoy of Hope," he said. "They reach out to rural schools and churches. Instead of saying, 'There's a low-income school, let's send them shoes,' they get in touch with local pastors to see if they qualify. We have papers we fill out and send to this company that donates shoes. Rural Compassion made me aware of it."
Last fall, Alverson attended a seminar, where he learned about the organization.
"It's about pastoring the community, not just the church," he said. "Sometimes, our vision is too small," he said. "You think, 'I'll just help the people that come to my church,' but they teach you to reach out to everyone around you, regardless of whether they've been to [your] church or not.
"Rural Compassion is like missionaries to rural churches. We as a church can send a certain amount of money, like we would a missionary, to keep them out in the field. They've learned there are companies looking for ways of helping out [and coordinate that]."
Alverson said the organization has helped his church with a variety of practical needs.
"They stocked our van with all kinds of things that were donated," he said. "It might be cereal or cleaning supplies. They sent us a bunch of flip-flops shoes one time. It was teacher appreciation time but we noticed the teachers' aides weren't really getting recognized, so we sent flip-flops with diamonds and jewelry on them. Those were donated at the time I was at the seminar. They also gave us cases of catchup and mustard, and baby food."
Alverson said several companies donate to Convoy of Hope, which are given to Rural Compassion to share with rural schools, churches and communities who might need them.
"They have these seminars and say, 'These items were donated, where can we use this?' They suggest going to your local fire or police department and seeing what their needs are," he said.
In once instance, a rural police department received exactly what they were needing after they received a delivery of gloves.
"There were thousands of gloves that were donated," Alverson said. "It turns out, a month or so ago, a local police department was informed they needed to go and pick up dead animals off the road to keep people from having accidents, and here they [Rural Compassion] came with cases of gloves at just the right time."
"Or, they'll have Powerade and suggest they be handed out to kids at their games. Or given to your local police and fire departments along with a 'thank you' for what they do for the community. So they are about, 'How can we make use of this item and get it to the people who need it?', much like the schools. The shoes were another example of that."