Camdyn Barber likes working with kids.
Barber, a goalie on the Northstar Christian Academy hockey team, volunteered to distribute new athletic socks and shoes to all 457 students at Woodland Elementary School on Tuesday.
It was a team effort and the hockey players wanted to contribute to the community, he said, adding that giving back helps who you are as a person and grows character.
Thrivent Financial partnered with Samaritan’s Feet International for this event.
Besides Barber and his hockey team, people from Thrivent, Samaritan’s Feet and others gathered in the school’s gym to wash the students’ feet and put on new socks and shoes.
Students informed volunteers of their shoe size ahead of time and were able to suggest which shoe style and color might be a good fit for them.
The students came into the gym by classroom appointment time. The shoes the students came to school with were put into drawstring bags. The bags, as well as “Live Generously” T-shirts, were goodies from Thrivent Financial that the students got to keep.
A focus of Woodland Elementary for the 2019-20 school year is service learning, said Principal Darla Harstad. After the event, students discussed the feeling of being served and treated with respect and kindness at a school-wide assembly after lunch. The students were asked to come up with additional ways to serve others.
“Getting shoes is an advantage,” Harstad said. “The bigger message is that they’ve had an opportunity to be served today.” She described the room full of energy as amazing.
That energy can transfer into igniting a fire to want to do service, she said. “They will take that feeling and put service in their hearts to help others.”
Denise Blomberg, regional director of operations at Samaritan’s Feet, said her organization has had a national relationship with Thrivent Financial for a while, but this is the first time Samaritan’s Feet has come to Alexandria.
Blomberg said it’s important that every child in school gets new shoes and not just those in poverty, because that would be singling them out. Samaritan’s Feet loves a good, fair playing field, she said.
“Students are judged by other students for their clothes, down to the shoes that they wear,” she said. Samaritan’s Feet has been given the opportunity to make a difference, she said.
And Harstad thought it was a success. She was grateful for all the volunteers who came out. “They’re a great example of what service really is.”
“We try to do as much community outreach as we can,” Barber said. “It’s been beneficial to them and us, too.”