Pam Dudding-Burch
Contributing writer

Grace Melanie giving out shoes HS May 2016

When Loraine Taylor, Reverend of Grace Assembly of God, attended a meeting for pastors in their fellowship, she had no idea what a gift one tid-bit of information could bring to ‘bless’ so many kids.

“At the meeting, I learned that there was an opportunity to obtain shoes for students in our area,” Taylor shared. Taylor did some research and found out that she could truly get over 600 pairs of shoes. “We were able to obtain a pair of shoes for every child in Craig County Schools,” Taylor said. “That was approximately $30,000.”

Taylor spoke with Superintendent Jeanette Warwick and was happy that the school welcomed the gifts from Grace Assembly. “The school staff saw our offer as ‘Acts of Kindness’ and they took the opportunity to also teach the children about being kind and showing love to one another, sharing how to pay it forward.”

The church was happy to learn that they could make a positive touch with the students and provide a gift to each student whether there was a material need or not. “We all appreciate a gift given in love,” Taylor shared.

Preparation for this event took many hours of time and many willing hands working. Melanie Brizendine invested many days preparing for the project along with others from the church fellowship.  “Much had to be done to order the specific sizes, separating and tagging each students gift bag,” Taylor said. “The school staff did the measuring for sizes.”

“We want our students to know that they have incredible value and many people care deeply for them,” Taylor said. “We also hope this kind expression will motivate them to show love and kindness to others.”

So, with a small-enclosed trailer got loaded with over 600 pairs of shoes that soon adorned the stage of Craig County school on Thursday, May 11. Each pair of shoes were bagged, and also had a cuzzie cup holder from the church and a free ice cream cone coupon from Pine Top Restaurant. The cup holder was embossed with the words; “You are worthy, You are loved, You are enough.”

Taylor shared that she feels that there are some “real needs among us”. She said she was so pleased and impressed to see the genuine care for every student from the School administrators and staff alike. “There are a lot of good things happening in Craig county schools by wonderful teachers and people who really care and devote their lives to the education and good of their students,” Taylor said. “This is not just a job to those who serve in this school, this is their heart.”

Taylor shared her heart with the students, as each school was brought into the auditorium.

“Each one of you are wonderfully and uniquely made. You have been given your specific individuality. You are all very similar in many ways, yet you are beautifully different in personality, abilities and creativity. You each have certain interest, hobbies, desires and focus. You have been given incredible abilities to positively affect the lives of so many people. Attributes, attitudes and deeds of servant hood, truthfulness, kindness and creative ways of helping others is what the person of greatness is made of.

Individually you are greater than all the wealth of the world piled into one place. Your value cannot be summed up in a sentence or magnitude of thoughts. You affect the lives of others and bring the spark of light, life and happiness to the eyes of your parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters, friends and family, teachers and classmates and in whoever’s presence you may be.

You are amazingly wonderful and have been given a set of characteristics and abilities that are uniquely yours for developing, inventing, creating and learning. Never stop dreaming, for it is in faith, dreams, passions and the disciplines of life that much of your destiny and greatness lies.

Never despise your differences for you are not made to be duplicates with total sameness as others. Perhaps your greatest difference and oddity is the very thing that will be used to propel you forward into your life’s purpose bringing both you and others much happiness and fulfillment.

The greatest heroes in all history had both flaws and special abilities. Don’t ever preoccupy your mind on your flaws alone. Sometimes we become great not because of our impressive looks, gifting and abilities but also through our weaknesses and disabilities. Your disadvantage and pain may be the very thing that is used the most to cause and motivate you forward, revealing your greatest purpose and future.

Faith can help each of us to find the purpose in our pain. Never despise your differences, just seek for the wisdom of what to do with the differences. You are uniquely made and you are not a mistake! Respect the differences of others; we are not supposed to be the same!

Never let a person, success or failure determine who you are and your value. Study and seek to find your faith and identity in the supreme One who is greater and more powerful than all of us. In life we all have some successes and failures and we all have times we disappoint ourselves and others; that simply means we are all human.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that one-day, one event, one mistake or one loss determines your happiness or success for the rest of your life. Make allowances for the weaknesses of others as well as for our own failures. No person should be estimated, sum totaled and described for one act whether good or bad. In saying that, I encourage you to be generous, be kind, forgive quickly, live in peace and live life seeking to understand truth and humankind.

Know your worth and know this: The kindness you give and the problems you help solve for others will determine many relationships and doors that will be opened to you. Live honorably, live full lives and enjoy the goodness that is given you; appreciate others and seek to live your life in gentleness doing no harm to humankind. In doing so, you can live in the rich grace of happiness.

No matter what happens in life, know this; You Are Worthy, You Are Loved, You Are Enough! Remember, Love doesn’t always scream with a loud voice, sometimes love is seen in silent action.”

“It seemed like a very large family with lots of wonderful kids,” Taylor shared. “What an opportunity to join parents and assist in shaping the lives of each student and sending them forward to change a generation in a positive way.” It is like bringing hands and hearts together for a common love.

After the school shared their ‘Acts of Kindness’ stories, and Reverend Loraine spoke, the students not only received their shoes and gifts in their bags, but all of their names were put in a basket for 2- $25 gift cards and 1-$50 gift card drawing per school.

Shouts of glee permeated the auditorium atmosphere, but when the numbers were called, one could hear a pin drop. As students rose to claim their gift card, you heard others with sighs of sadness, but most with yells of congrats for their peer. “I love giving things away!” Melanie Brizendine would say to each school, as she read the numbers out. “It was great to see the students excitement.” Taylor added.

Taylor believes that there is a lot more right in our schools and in our world that there is wrong. “Sometimes it depends who you are around and what perspective one chooses to take.”

Taylor, with her church, felt that all the effort was worth the investment. “Some practical needs were met and others just enjoyed to gesture,” she said. “We, at Grace Assembly, believe we are to serve and bless others as we are given opportunities. We love students and we want to convey Christ’s love in kind deeds as opportunity presents itself.”

Taylor shared that she was thankful especially for Melanie Brizendine who assisted with the bulk of the work and for the other dedicated church family at Grace Assembly of God in Catawba who assisted in “this worthy project”.

Grace Assembly would like to thank the school for allowing them the opportunity to share. “Of course we are thankful for the business that provided the shoes (they wish to remain unnamed). “We know God is and will continue to bless those who give simply to help others,” Taylor shared.

The entire assembly was put together with a positive message about “paying it forward” and being kind to each other. “It’s always a pleasure to show love in practical ways,” Taylor said. “Some may be in need and others may not but everyone needs to feel valued and loved.”

Taylor said that giving a gift to simply to bless someone and having no expectation of reward from them is Biblical giving. “In fact, that is what God did for each of us,” she added.

The assembly seemed to display the last line of Taylor’s message to the students; Just like Jesus did – “Love doesn’t always scream with a loud voice, sometimes it is seen in silent action.”

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