Members of NewSpring Church in Boiling Springs donated more than 780 pairs of shoes to students at Hendrix Elementary School on Thursday morning.
Every student from every grade level was given a new pair of New Balance sneakers in the school's gym. Many were anxious to try out their new shoes and ran around in whatever free space they could find. They formed lines to run and jump, and some tried to touch the basketball net hanging above their heads.
“They'll probably tell you they can run faster and jump higher now,” Principal Tina Humphries said.
Aulivia Dimauro, a second-grader, said she liked her new blue-and-green shoes, even though purple is her favorite color. She said blue was close enough and that she thought her new shoes would make playing outside more fun.
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“I like them,” she said. “I can run faster and stop better now.”
Jadynn Hammett was one of the students eager to take his new, bright red-and-blue sneakers out for a spin in the gym. He ran multiple laps around a table set up at midcourt that served as a regrouping station for the NewSpring volunteers, who were dressed in black T-shirts with the church's logo.
“These are so much better,” Hammett yelled as he ran.
Other NewSpring congregations have donated shoes to students at local schools across the Upstate for several years.
Cameron O'Sullivan, pastor of NewSpring in Boiling Springs, said the church got in touch with District 2 and learned that Hendrix Elementary would be a good place to hold the shoe donation.
“We're always looking to give back to the community, especially when it means being able to partner with schools,” O'Sullivan said.
He said the experience of giving students new shoes to replace their old or worn-down shoes was similar to the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples in the Bible.
“It's so, so incredible to be able to do this,” he said. “Some of these kids have worn the same pair or have way outgrown their shoes.”