CHARLOTTE, NC–The international non-profit whose mission is to inspire hope through a pair of shoes is planting some roots in the Queen City!
When most of us wake up in the morning, we wash our face, brush our teeth and get dressed for the day. If we have the time, we’ll pick out shoes that match our outfits. Sadly, that’s not everyone’s reality.
Co-founder of Samaritans feet, Manny Ohonme wants to make sure that no child goes without a pair of shoes and this new 16 acre facility will be used to accomplish that goal.
Manny Ohonme knows what it’s like to not have the basic necessities like shoes.
That all changed when a missionary group from Wisconsin gave him a pair of sneakers and encouraged him to believe in his dreams and never give up.
Ohonme says, “I mean, just to think about the reality of it. This all started because an African kid didn’t have shoes. To us that as a narrative that it doesn’t matter how you begin, that you can also be used to accomplish great things.”
Now, the co-founder of Samaritans Feet’s mission is to inspire hope through kindness and a pair of shoes. Manny and Tracie Ohonme purchased the 16 acre warehouse to shed light on a problem that many people may not know about.
Manny says, “We want this to be a transformational center where people can come and learn. Someone asked me, ‘who is your neighbor?’ Well, I’ll tell you that your neighbor may be in Ethiopia, Uganda, Nicaragua, maybe in Honduras or Atlanta or even in Alaska…those people all need hope, too! That’s what we want to be able to do.”
Tracie says one misconception a lot of people have is that this only occurs in places outside of the United States. She says, “Think about Tennessee where we just came and served with the First Lady and one of the teachers in that community said thank you so much for coming because I’m tired of duct taping kids shoes together every morning. It’s in the United States, too. COVID-19 didn’t help that, either!”
Tracie says every kid deserves the chance to become who they were destined to be, no matter what economic background they were born into.
Tracie adds, “Even the kid that’s in the 1st and 2nd grade right here in West Charlotte, all they need is the shoes to help them so that they can focus on education, on health, on the things that’s important to them like being able to play sports and have a healthy life.”
Although faced with serious challenges with the supply chain and COVID-19 restrictions, Manny says they’ve been able to continue serving with the help of volunteers, but they had to switch things up.
Manny says, “We came up with the hope-tote that allows us to be able to put our shoes and socks in there and a hygiene kit to keep kids healthy and a message of hope. We launched this message of hope concept and people from around the world are coming to our website and writing messages of hope, we put that in the bag too.”
They hope the community will come to the museum exhibit to see exactly what they’re doing in the Queen City and get involved in spreading hope through donating and volunteering. To get involved, please click here.