Charlotte, NC has been the home of Samaritan’s Feet for the entirety of its near 20 year existence. So the week of Valentine’s Day, Samaritan’s Feet decided to show a little extra love and compassion to its most vulnerable residents.

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A young boy named King walked in to the cafeteria wearing Spiderman slippers. He was quiet and shy as he climbed into the chair across from a volunteer, his eyes focused on the tub of soapy water in front of him. Then, after about 10 minutes, he was no longer the same little shy boy.

After having his feet washed, lots of giggles and conversation with a volunteer, he jumped off the chair wearing his new athletic shoes,strapped his orange Hope Tote drawstring bag to his back, and began stomping around. Another volunteer asked him how he could jump, and he immediately burst up with great energy.

He was smiling as he walked around the cafeteria, and he was not the only one greatly impacted that day at The Salvation Army in Charlotte, NC. Numerous women left the shoe distribution in tears after talking with volunteers for 20 to 30 minutes. It was a sweet time of serving mothers, children, and seniors, and allowing them to be seen and heard. 

“Just observing and walking around and seeing the smiles on people’s faces, the tears being shed, the opportunity that they have to pray with people—it means a lot. It shows that people care. I think when you’re going through some of the most difficult days of your life, just knowing that there is an army of support behind you…is a really moving experience. I think you can see that on the faces of everyone who has attended today,” said Brent Rhinehart, Director of Communications, The Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte.

Samaritan’s Feet served at two Salvation Army locations in Charlotte that week. One was the Center of Hope, a shelter for individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness. On average, 250-275 individuals reside there temporarily, as they are helped through case-management, job training, clinics, etc., to help them get back on their feet. The other facility was the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center which offers a rehabilitation program specifically for men.

“It might seem like a small act, but it makes a world of difference in the lives of the families that we serve at these facilities,” said Rhinehart.

That same week, Samaritan’s Feet also served at two Roof Above apartment complexes in Charlotte. Roof Above is a comprehensive homeless service provider serving 1,200 people per day through a spectrum of services ranging from street outreach, day services, emergency shelter, and permanent supportive housing.

The time spent with these residents was truly memorable. Whether it was long conversations about family or time carefully washing and cleaning the feet, the time together was intentional and captivating for everyone in the room.

“To be honest, just the fact that people would think about our residents and spend time talking with them. Just the fact that someone is willing to serve and provide something to them, but more importantly just talk with them and letting them know they matter, that means the world to our people here,” said Philip Harris, Volunteer Engagement Specialist, Roof Above Moore Place.

Individuals who live in these facilities were some of the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness in the Charlotte area, the home base of Samaritan’s Feet. One of the facilities had just opened, so many who lived there were experiencing having a home for the first time in a long time. 

The hope of Samaritan’s Feet is that these individuals felt loved and encouraged, and just a little more comfortable and confident in their daily lives.