HOUSTON (ABP) — A Baptist church in Texas braved near-100 degree heat Aug. 21 to set the new Guinness World Record for the longest chain of shoes.
South Main Baptist Church in Houston lined up 20,110 shoes side-by-side in a pattern on the church parking lot to draw attention to Buckner International's Shoes for Orphan Souls shoe drive that provides footwear to orphans around the world. The previous record of 19,856 was set in 2008.
To mark the 10th year of its participation in the drive, the congregation set a goal of collecting 10,000 pairs of shoes. After a "drive-through drop off" Thursday, Aug. 19, church members showed up early Saturday morning for a final celebration called "Sole Chain."
Jennifer Gribble, the church's marketing coordinator, said 150 volunteers worked four hours and 15 minutes to build the chain. Participants then spent the next hour and 15 minutes packing and loading the shoes onto an 18-wheeler truck to be shipped to Dallas where they will be distributed to orphans worldwide.
To certify the chain as a Guinness record, Gribble said the congregation submitted a packet with photos, videos, news articles and reports from official unbiased witnesses on site to verify the shoe count.
Buckner International, a global Baptist organization dedicated to caring for children, families and senior adults, assumed responsibility for Shoes for Orphan Souls in 1999. The program, which began in 1995 by a Dallas radio station, has distributed more than 2 million pairs of shoes and socks to children in 68 countries.
Bob Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.