After Donnie Bonuchi with Shoes from the Heart in Macon called last week to arrange a photo opportunity, I found myself mysteriously obsessed with thoughts about elves.
Bonuchi had explained how he and wife Cindy had founded a mission devoted to providing children new shoes. In 2012 Donnie and Cindy, who are Macon residents, had begun by donating 65 pairs of shoes to the kids at the Macon County Head Start. Before they were done over 525 four-year-olds in Macon were padding about in new sneakers, no doubt glancing down at their feet periodically to make certain it wasn't all just a dream.
Last Friday, when I went to Immaculate Conception School to shoot the photo Donnie had requested, I found the Bonuchis and their small group of volunteers busily measuring the feet of Brookfield's Head Start students. Among those volunteers were Todd and Tina Bouchard, the couple who had alerted Donnie and Cindy Bonuchi to the need for new shoes in Brookfield. Some time ago, Tina had seen a local news story about Shoes from the Heart on TV and was prompted to call Donnie. Todd explains, "My daughter, Ashley, came up with the idea for a 5K Color Run and started doing the leg work for the event. My wife created a page on Facebook where people could pre-register for the run, which started at Park Baptist Church on Saturday, August 3rd. McLarney Manor residents/volunteers were on hand to help out, and about 90 people came out to participate. The run was a success as we netted around $1,300." The Boucards could have used those proceeds to pay the run's overhead, but chose instead to donate it all to Shoes from the Heart. Donnie confirms that every cent raised here stayed in Brookfield to buy new sneakers for our kids at Head Start.
In the mind of a four-year-old, suddenly finding new shoes on his/her feet isn't about all the organization it takes to make a 5K fundraiser successful; it's more like a fairy tale come to life of its own volition. That conclusion is quickly substantiated by a chorus of high-pitched giggles resonating between my ears. It's those pesky elves again, insisting on being part of my thought process and this story.
When it comes to fairy tales about shoes, two come to mind.
The first, "The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes," is a cautionary tale that requires some deliberation when applied to Shoes from the Heart. The modernized version goes something like this: There once was a shoemaker (cobbler) who was in great demand throughout his village. Every day he would work tirelessly in his little shop, trying to keep up with a seemingly endless list of orders for shoes. Every night he would go home, exhausted from making so many pairs of shoes, and be greeted by his own barefoot children. They would plead, "Daddy, when are you going to make shoes for us?" The cobbler would assure them that just as soon as he got caught up with all of the other shoe orders, he would get to theirs. It seemed like that time would never come until one day he finally filled his last order and had no other shoes to make than the ones his own children needed. He went home that night with new shoes for his children, but no one was there to greet him. His children, who had grown weary of waiting, had gone to live with their mother, who had already filed for a divorce on grounds of spousal neglect.
Page 2 of 2 - While the moral of this story is don't neglect to take care of your own needs and those of your loved ones, it is the more inclusive caring for everyone's children that is the driving force behind Shoes for the Heart. Sometimes we are called to put ourselves last in service to others, and I have a hard time believing that a loving God would find us at fault for doing so.