The congregation at FishHawk Fellowship Church donated 171 pairs of shoes for students at Pinecrest Elementary School.

More than 170 local students will have a new pair of shoes this Christmas thanks to a group of generous residents. The congregation at FishHawk Fellowship Church came together last month to buy shoes for students in need at Pinecrest Elementary School for the second year in a row.

According to Missions Pastor Corey Duncan, the church has been working with Pinecrest Elementary for years, providing items such as books and blankets.

“From this relationship we were made aware that many children at the school were either wearing shoes that didn’t fit anymore or had holes,” said Duncan. “That birthed the idea to donate shoes.”

Last year, the congregation collected 100 pairs of shoes to identified students and this year it raised its goal to 171 pairs.

“Pinecrest is within our community and is a Title 1 school, which means many of their students are on reduced lunch,” said Duncan. “They have a high population of foster, migrant and homeless children. It’s an opportunity to share the love of Jesus by providing a practical need.”

Duncan also explained that within 48 hours of putting out the request for donations, all 171 students had been selected by congregation members.

Members were given the opportunity to pick up postcards with a QR code to scan. The code took donors to a list of specific children to choose from to purchase the shoes for. They were then asked to wrap the shoes and attach the postcards with their information to the wrapped gifts. Shoes were then dropped off at the church.

“We still have people who want to get involved,” he explained, “so we’ve offered for them to donate Walmart gift cards. This will help the school’s social workers to meet needs all year long.”

Duncan encouraged anyone who would like to help the students at Pinecrest Elementary to purchase Walmart cards and send them to the church at 15326 FishHawk Blvd., Lithia, FL 33547, Attn. Missions.

FishHawk Fellowship Church has many ministries and ways for residents to give back throughout the year. For more information, visit www.fishhawkfc.org or call Duncan at 655-7431.

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Kate Quesada is the Multimedia Manager for the Osprey Observer Newspapers. She has been working for the paper in various positions since 2005 when she graduated with her Masters degree in mass communications. She lives in Valrico with her husband Mike and son Dylan.