New Jersey Pastor Collects Shoes to Raise Awareness of Human Trafficking

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Twenty-seven million is a big number. Knowing that this is also the number of human trafficking victims makes it even bigger. Ken Vander Wall, campus pastor at William Paterson University in New Haledon, N.J., wanted to do something about it.

Shoes against human trafficking

On Palm Sunday, he and the WPU Christian Fellowship displayed close to 5,000 pairs of shoes on campus to raise awareness of the second-largest crime in the world.

The shoes were collected during Lent; almost 100 people gathered on campus to bring and display them on Palm Sunday. One student walking by during the event asked what was going on. “When we told him that the shoe display was to call attention to human trafficking,” Vander Wall explains, “he took off his shoes, donated them to the cause, and walked off in his socks!”

The local mayor, Chris Vergano, came to help, along with Francisco Diaz, vice president of Campus Life. Vander Wall and his wife spoke and shared ways to continue helping, including having participants sign postcards to U.S. president Barack Obama and Congress to provide more funds to fight human trafficking.
The group also formed a circle around the shoes and prayed. “We prayed for an end to trafficking,” Vander Wall says. “We also prayed for those who would receive the shoes.”

All the donated shoes went to Soles4Souls, an organization that, according to its mission statement, “collects new shoes to give relief to the victims of abject suffering.”

Vander Wall is thankful for all the enthusiasm surrounding the event and hopes to see it continue, especially since the Super Bowl, the largest human trafficking event in the U.S., is scheduled to be in New Jersey next year.

About the Author

Callie Feyen is a writer living in Ann Arbor, Mich. She attends First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor. Callie writes news for The Banner and contributes to Coffee+Crumbs, and T.S. Poetry Press. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and is the author of The Teacher Diaries: Romeo and Juliet, and Twirl: My Life in Stories, Writing, & Clothes.

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