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Sometimes Making a Difference is Measured in a Pair of Shoes

Shirley-ArringtonPenn Medicine CAREs

About six years ago, Shirley Arrington, completion coordinator in Medical Records, visited a friend’s church during its community day. Inspired by the event, Arrington started Pine Hill Primitive Baptist Outreach Day at her own church. Now in its sixth year, the event offers clothes, food, school supplies, giveaways for kids, diabetes blood testing from a registered nurse, blood pressure monitoring (from Arrington’s niece), furniture, brochures and information, and bags with washcloths and soap. The event grows every year. It’s now feeding and providing necessary supplies each year for 200 people.

Inspired by the turnout, community support, and God, Arrington has played an integral part in building up this event, which occurs on the third Saturday of every September.

“I love to give,” said Arrington. “I’m a bad receiver, but I love to give.”

As the event grows – it’s now up to 35 tables -- so does the number of people who need the support. “Folks are struggling,” said Arrington. “Some working folks are struggling.”

At last year’s event, one woman who came explained that she spent the previous two months around Philadelphia without a pair of shoes on her feet. Arrington and other volunteers responded to the woman’s needs, placing shoes on her feet, feeding her, and taking care of other basic needs.

“I do make a speech,” said Arrington. “There is no profanity to be used once you enter this yard. We are here because we care and want to help.” She said the nurse doing the diabetes testing has supplied the blood pressure monitor, needles, alcohol swabs, etc., and now the Penn Medicine CAREs grant supplies much of the equipment.

“I’m so grateful for the grant,” said Arrington. “It’s a blessing, thank you so much.”

Arrington puts the event together with support from her church family, family, co-workers, friends, and others, and looks forward to seeking out more sponsors from local businesses and people in this area to expand the offerings. Arrington also meets with leaders at the nearby high school to see if there’s a way to encourage students to volunteer.

“We take great pride and great joy in doing this,” said Arrington. “Our congregation is not very big, but our heart is.”

Volunteering comes naturally for Arrington. “My mom had us volunteer when we were coming up. We didn’t have a choice.”

Arrington’s mother passed away in 2011, so last year’s event was the first one without her mom by her side. Arrington’s brothers and sisters carried on their service and thought about their mother all day. “I know she would be proud, because that’s what she raised us to do.”

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