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By Robin Saylor

Written by Robin Saylor, Connections Community Church

She looked up with big brown eyes, "Tu as les chaussures?" My mind raced for a moment, attempting to recollect enough french to understand her question. "Les chaussures"?, oh - shoes. She's asking if I have shoes. Of course I have shoes - shoes on my feet, shoes in my suitcase back at the compound, shoes in the closet at home, shoes under my bed - more shoes than I can count. "Yes, I have shoes." I paused, about to change the subject, and then I saw. I saw her feet - dirty, dusty, calloused, and bare. There we were, on a rocky hilltop above Port au Prince, Haiti, and her feet were bare. I stumbled for the right word to say. But sometimes there are no words. I simply leaned down, took the shoes off my own feet and put them on her bare feet. Like a page out of a fairytale, it was a perfect fit.

Arriving back on Canadian soil a week later I shared my story and many more like it with friends, family, and anyone who would listen. Ellen, the owner of Perfectly Fit By Ellen, a children's shoe store in Sherwood Mall, listened. "I want to help Haiti", said Ellen. "What can I do?" It wasn't long before her Facebook page was plastered with pictures of shoeless children in Haiti. She put out the challenge, "Exchange your gently used spring or summer shoes or sandals for 10% off for your new purchase." Her customers responded eagerly. One woman from the Parent/Student Council at Westmount Public school heard Ellen's plea and took it one step further, asking the grade seven and eight students to donate their shoes to the cause. The shoes came pouring in; the boxes piled up in the ministry centre at Connections Community Church. In the end, over 50 boxes of shoes were collected and sent to the Mission to Haiti compound in Cabaret, Haiti for distribution among the families in the neighbouring towns.

This month hundreds of men, women and children will receive the gift of pair of shoes thanks to the creative thinking of Ellen and the generous spirit of Londoners.

In mid-January another team from the London area will be heading to Cabaret, Haiti with Mission to Haiti Canada to run medical clinics in the tent cities, to minister to the children in the orphanage, to continue building permanent homes for those whose homes were devastated in the 2010 earthquake, and thanks to the people of London, to distribute shoes to those without. Our hope and prayer is that the day will come when no child have to utter the words, "Do you have shoes?"

To follow the stories of the Mission to Haiti team check out the blog at