Teen collects, delivers shoes to Haiti

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Teen collects, delivers shoes to Haiti

By Sarah Alsgaard | Jan. 9, 2009 {0960}

Instead of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes, a youth member of Community United Methodist Church in DeBary is helping people by giving them shoes to walk in.

Caryn Barry, 14, and her father, Dr. Wayne Barry, stand in front of banana boxes packed with 1,500 pairs of shoes the teen collected for people in Haiti through family and members of her church, Community United Methodist Church in DeBary. Photo courtesy of Community United Methodist Church. Photo #09-1081.

Fourteen-year-old Caryn Barry decided to help people in Haiti by collecting more than 1,500 donated pairs of shoes for them. She and seven other team members will be traveling to Haiti Jan. 24 to personally deliver them.

A non-denominational outreach ministry called Living in Faith will help Barry distribute the shoes. The organization has a permanent mission location in Croix-des-Bouquets in Haiti, according to its Web site.

The trip will be Barry’s first outside the United States.

“I’m kind of scared to go, but I’m really excited to see everybody’s expression when they get the shoes,” she said.

After deciding to send shoes, Barry first appealed to her church, where she has been a member for 10 years, and then her relatives in Maryland. With everyone’s help, she says she received 1,500 pairs of shoes — a variety for men, women and children.

“It was great to have a youth from our church step forward, and it feels like God put his hand on it and said, ‘Well, collecting is one thing, but let’s go out and hand them out,’ ” said Cheri Mangum, chairwoman of the outreach committee at Community United Methodist Church. “So we’re really proud of Caryn for doing this.”

Barry and the church have been collecting the shoes for the past 18 months.

“It’s been a part of everything we’ve done for the past year,” Mangum said. “We’ve had the shoe ministry and the donation box (at the church).”

Those going on the trip are paying their own expenses, at about $950 per person, Mangum added.

The Rev. Will Furlong, pastor at Community United Methodist Church, will be part of the team. Furlong suggested Barry donate the shoes to Haiti.
“When we think about countries that are impoverished, we think of countries that are suffering,” he said. “We first think of Africa, and rightly so, but Haiti’s in our neighborhood.”

Furlong first realized the extent of the country’s needs when he was in seminary and interning in the Florida Keys.

“I mean you have to go back 100 years in the history of Haiti to get to prosperity,” Furlong said. “So if there are generations where there is no hope and they’re told that there won’t be hope, then hope will die … we have a chance that helps bring hope and actually helps make people’s lives better.”

While in Haiti, the group will help Living in Faith build a chapel. Barry’s father, a doctor, will also be part of the team, providing medical services to Haitians they visit who need assistance, Mangum said.

“I think it’s an excellent example for other young people in the country,” said Julie Brigner, materials management director for Living in Faith. “(Here is) someone who wanted to make a difference and definitely will be making one.”

Living in Faith began 12 years ago when its founder and president, Russ Montgomery, began working on mission projects in Cuba, according to Living in Faith’s Web site. The group works to provide clean water, eyeglasses for improved vision, basic nutrition and life-saving medicine. It is partnering with another outreach ministry called Double Harvest in Haiti, according to Brigner.

Working in Haiti is important, Brigner says, “to just let the people know that Jesus loves them and to use it as an evangelistic tool … we’re just trying to open up more of the doors to share the love of Jesus with them.”

“Caryn has been, and is, a wonderful blessing,” Furlong said. “To have someone get an idea and have a heart to want to help people, and then to carry that, to lead it, in a congregation. She can be kind of quiet, but to have her take the reigns and carry the mantel and to get it done, that’s very inspiring.”

In 2006 the Florida Conference established a formal link between the Methodist Church of Haiti and the Florida Conference by approving the Haiti/Florida Covenant. Through the covenant leaders of both churches are working as partners in ministry, forging friendships and connections and sharing cultures, experiences and resources. More information about the covenant is available at http://www.flumc2.org/page.asp?PKValue=972.

News media contact: Tita Parham, 800-282-8011, tparham@flumc.org, Orlando

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Alsgaard is a freelance writer based in Lakeland.

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