By Chelsea Quackenbush
Ricardo* looked up after staring at his brand new black sneakers for what seemed like an eternity. A big grin encompassed his face.
“Bueno?” asked the trip participant.
He nodded his head. He ran off, smiling, to join his friends.
At San Antonio home, a government-run orphanage in Lima, Peru, Shoes for Orphan Souls provided a ray of light for more than 100 kids in July. WBGL, a Champaign, Ill.-based radio station, brought a group of 35 participants to put shoes on the feet of children who live in government orphanages.
Ricardo, now 11, was abandoned at the hospital when he was born because he had special needs. His family couldn’t afford to provide for his higher-than-average needs. Although it’s hard for the children who live in the San Antonio home to have hope, receiving new shoes left all 100 kids with smiles for the rest of the day.
They weren’t the only ones smiling – trip participants felt equally blessed.
“It is humbling just to fit them with the right shoes, and to take the shoes off that they were wearing,” said Laura Olthoff, a trip participant from Champaign. “And to see the condition they were in, and to replace it with something brand new, and just pray for the steps they’re going to take in those shoes, and see smiles on their faces … The kids are just so eager to communicate what they’re thinking and feeling and their gratitude for the shoes. It’s a really, really special honor and I’m so humbled to get to do it.”
*Name changed to protect privacy