Jennifer Seals is a school librarian and cross-country coach in Jellico, Tennessee. Here, in her own words, is the story of how your donation made a difference for some of Jennifer’s students:
“I am a cross-country coach and it’s our first year, in many years, having a team. When we began training in mid-August, I expected that the students would buy shoes for the season, but I realized at our first meet it wasn’t that they didn’t want to buy shoes, they just couldn’t. There was one boy with his toes coming out the side of his shoe and a girl with her soles coming off. Kids from other teams were mocking them. I knew I had to do something.
I bought two pairs of shoes for the girl, and my husband, David, tried to give his old athletic shoes to the boy but they didn’t fit. David and I talked about the problem and we realized we couldn’t personally help all of the kids. He suggested I apply for a grant. I found Shoes That Fit online and prayed over it. I said, “God, I can’t do this, you need to take care of it.”
I reached-out to three organizations. I never heard back from one. Another replied that they would be able to help in a few months, but we needed the shoes yesterday! The running season only goes to mid-October. Then I heard back from Shoes That Fit! They were able to send shoes for my team of eleven students and the timing worked out perfectly. We measured the kids, and when the shoes arrived, they ALL fit! I could see the hand of God in all this and it strengthened my faith that He cares for those in need. This was a big blessing for the students.
My team was on cloud nine. All of the shoes were from ON, a brand I didn’t recognize, but my kids said, “Do you KNOW what these are?” I wore the ON shoes, to compare them with my brand-name, high-quality running shoes, and I thought, “Holy crap! I need some of these!”
I can show you pictures of the school and of the town, Jellico, but it doesn’t show the poverty within these mountains. I keep food in my office along with extra clothes for kids who need them. My husband and I have served on many overseas mission trips, but after COVID-19, we looked for something local and realized there is so much need in our own backyard. It is heartbreaking.
You might think you just sent eleven pairs of shoes to a small town in Tennessee, but it’s so much more than that. You sent confidence, pride, and equality. You leveled the playing field.
My grateful heart says thank you! My team says thank you, too!”
Are you inspired by this story? Learn how easy it is to get started crowdfunding and make a difference in a child’s life. Email [email protected] for more information.