Hundreds of guests in need enjoyed a hot meal, received free shoes and had their feet washed during the annual Socks, Shoes and Salute campaign in downtown Victorville.
Hosted by the Azusa Pacific University School of Nursing, the annual event was held at the Lord’s Table on the campus of St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church.
“We have been on a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, but we are back to serve our community,” said Lydia Garcia-Usry, Senior Nursing Instructor. “Our nursing students have collected a lot of shoes over the years, so we have quite the selection.”
During the event, APU nurses washed and inspected hundreds of feet of infection and educated visitors on the importance of hygiene. They also offered foot care, especially for people with diabetes.
Several organizations participated in the event, such as the Victor Valley Rescue Mission, which provided mobile showers and Bridges Beauty College, which provided free haircuts.
The foot-washing event took place on Maundy or Maundy Thursday, a day of Holy Week that commemorates when Jesus Christ washed the feet of his disciples after the Last Supper, according to the scriptures.
During the event, Victorville Mayor Debra Jones rolled up her sleeves and joined the nursing students in washing their feet.
“I met a gentleman named Otis and it was such a blessing to have his feet washed,” Jones said, as she fought back tears. “Just looking into his eyes, there was a connection of souls, neighbor to neighbor.”
Jones said the event site was like an “oasis of compassion and mercy” for those in need of food and comfort.
Inside the parish hall of the church. APU students were busy serving food to hungry visitors, including Mary Jenkins, 52, who lives in downtown Victorville.
“Sometimes I scrape together a few bucks for a taco or a burrito, but getting served a hot meal is fine,” Jenkins said with a smile. “It’s also nice to be treated with respect.”
Jenkins said she felt blessed when two APU students prayed for her.
APU student Melissa Bronson told the Daily Press that despite graduating in July, she plans to return next year to serve.
“I love doing outreach, there’s nothing quite like it,” Bronson said. “It’s a bit more special now after COVID-19. It gives us the opportunity to serve face to face. It blesses us and those we serve.
Other attendees at the event included God’s Hand Extended, High Desert 2nd Chance, A Better Way, Preschool Services, Community Health Action Network and Ready for Reading Book Club.
High Desert Homeless Services also participated, along with Symba Clinic, St. Mary’s Medical Center and Wound Center, Children’s Choice Dental Care, and Nails by Wendy Martinez and Kayla Ruiz.
“Our goal was to provide a day of refreshment for the souls of the High Desert,” Garcia-Usry said.
Daily Press reporter Rene Ray De La Cruz can be reached at 760-951-6227 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz