Shoes are a good fit for Neighbor to Neighbor outreach program

June 27, 2017 by

Neighbor to Neighbor in Concordia is always a beehive of activity. But recent visitors might have noticed many women at Neighbor to Neighbor busy sewing not just clothing but hand-sewn shoes as part of an outreach program. Where does all that work go?

On Friday, June 23, the most recent fruits of all that sewing headed out on a journey to North Carolina, before flying onward to Uganda.

Dresses, shorts and shoes are hand-sewn at Neighbor to Neighbor.

“We just sent 12 boxes to North Carolina,” Sister Ramona Medina said. The boxes contained 122 hand-sewn dresses, 100 pairs of hand-sewn shorts, and 82 pairs of shoes crafted by the volunteer seamstresses at Neighbor to Neighbor. The boxes are sent to Soul Hope, Inc., a 501 (c)3 nonprofit in North Carolina dedicated to helping with foot-related diseases and medical relief, which will then distribute them to people in need in Uganda. Sister Ramona, along with Sister Pat McLennon and Sister Jean Befort direct Neighbor to Neighbor.

The group has been making dresses and shorts for some time, having completed more than 1,700 dresses and 500 shorts that have been distributed to children in need in Guatemala, Africa, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico and El Paso, Sister Ramona said. Some of the clothes are distributed by local church groups on their missions in other countries.

The shoes, however, fit a new need.

“We started with dresses and shorts,” said Neighbor to Neighbor assistant Myrna Shelton. “Then we found that children in Uganda had a serious problem with jiggers. So we started making them shoes.”

Jiggers (Tunga penetrans) are parasites that burrow into the skin, mainly on exposed feet, causing painful, debilitating lesions and sometimes death from secondary infections. Shoes help eliminate an entry point for these parasites.

The goal of this community outreach program was to create 100 pairs of shoes. “We’ve exceeded that a little bit,” Sister Ramona said. And they plan to deliver more.

Many area women have volunteered time on the project, including Dorothy Bowersox, Sister Cese Green, Doris Hale, Joyce McClanahan, Vicki Menard, Annette Hood and Verna Hamel, as well as many others who lend a helping hand when they can.

“Annette has sewn all the shoe tops on (to the soles) by hand,” Sister Ramona said. “It has really been teamwork on the shoes. No one could do this alone”

While Neighbor to Neighbor started with trying to meet the needs of the local community, it has now grown into so much more. Women who have learned skills, such as sewing, can use them to help reach other people in need, Sister Pat said.

“The women are very excited about what they are doing,” Sister Pat said. “It is so good for them to know they are doing something to help someone else in need.”

For more information about the programs available at Neighbor to Neighbor, visit www.csjkansas.org/neighbor-to-neighbor/ or www.facebook.com/N2NConcordia/.

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