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Messiah Baptist Church members collected 500 pairs of shoes for children in Africa. Â From left are Deacon Deacon Samuel Omoosho, Pastor Perry Jones and First Lady Pamela Jones.
Sentinel News Service
In a small village in Nigeria, hundreds of children are sporting new footwear thanks to the efforts of two South Los Angeles churches.
Messiah Baptist and operates "Soles to Souls" outreach ministries which collect shoes for distribution to needy families in Africa.
Earlier this month, the members of Messiah joined with community groups to deliver more than 500 new pairs of casual, dress, and sports shoes to those in need all across the world.
"Through 'Soles for Souls', our goal is to change the world, two feet or one pair at a time, by donating shoes. Without shoes, there is no protection against the diseases caused by the dust and dirt. Â These diseases can lead to limping, swelling and in some cases, amputation of the limbs," said Mrs. Pamela Jones, Messiah's first lady and organizer of the church's program. Â "We were inspired to launch 'Soles to Souls" after hearing the story about our member, Deacon Samuel Olushola Omoosho."
A native of Nigeria, Deacon Omotosho received his first pair of shoes at age eight. Â "But I was too embarrassed to wear them because I was the only child in my village with shoes. Finally, on Easter Sunday, my grandmother reminded me that shoes were meant to be worn, not carried," he said. Â "With that kind of experience, it's always been my desire to help those children in the villages without shoes."
Omotosho came to America and thrived, but his siblings remained in Africa. Â Later, both his brother and sister died within months of each other, leaving behind 11 young children for him to provide long-distance support.
Mrs. Jones said, "When I heard about his situation, I asked him how I could help. Â Then, I thought of donating shoes so, for the last two months, we have been collecting them. Â Our goal is for "Soles to Souls" to be an ongoing program and we move from village to village contributing new shoes."
'Soles for Souls' is part of the Pamela Jones Foundation for Hope. Â Its mission is "to make a difference in the lives of children in the U.S. and abroad." Â The foundation also offers breast cancer education programs and health care assistance for single parents.
"We invite the community to contribute new footwear in any size and all shoes are sent to support communities in Africa," added Mrs. Jones.
For information on the program at Messiah Baptist Church, call (323) 734-7920.