Not about Shoes, It’s About Connections

April 4, 2013 by Laurie Bollig

As the spotlight shines on Atlanta during the NCAA Final Four, a small yet powerful organization has already left its mark on the city. Samaritan’s Feet – a humanitarian aid organization that shares a message of hope and love by distributing new shoes and washing the feet of underprivileged individuals around the world – marked the 75th anniversary of one of the nation’s most treasured college sporting events by distributing 7,500 pairs of new shoes to Atlanta’s underserved population.

In the two weeks leading up to the finale of NCAA March Madness, Samaritan’s Feet sponsored eight shoe distributions at sites around the city.  They relied on the city’s extensive volunteer base to help them wash the feet of many adults and children who often are wearing shoes that no longer fit or that are worn out. Atlanta Hawks player Al Horford paid a visit to one of the distributions. Twenty local high school and college coaches also heard Samaritan’s Feet founder Manny Ohonme talk about his mission.

Ohonme received his first pair of shoes at age nine when missionaries visited his native Nigeria. They also taught him how to play basketball. Years later, he accepted a scholarship to play college ball in the United States. He got his degree and settled into a comfortable job. He was living the American dream. But Ohonme felt a calling to give back, and he kept coming back to the feeling he had when he put on his first pair of shoes. He started Samaritan’s Feet with the goal of outfitting millions of the world’s poor with new shoes. Ten years into his mission, he’s doing just that.

To see the Samaritan’s Feet team in action is to be inspired by their servant leadership. As missions and volunteer relations director Teresa Hucko says to the volunteers she trains, “This isn’t about the shoes. It’s about the connection you make when you are washing the feet of someone else.” She challenges volunteers to make sure each person who leaves with new shoes also leaves with a renewed feeling of self-worth.

Premier Sports has a history of working with faith-based organizations. It’s actually part of our company mission and philosophy to do good. So partnering with Samaritan’s Feet through our client work around colleges sports feels natural.

If you would like more information, visit Samaritan’s Feet or follow the organization on Twitter @Samaritans_Feet.