APU School of Nursing’s Socks, Shoes, and Salvation Event Returns to Serve Those in Need

by Walter Geronimo Cabal

Azusa Pacific University’s School of Nursing served approximately 100 people experiencing homelessness at the annual Socks, Shoes, and Salvation outreach event in downtown Victorville that took place the week of Easter at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church.

Led by Nursing Instructor Lydia Garcia-Usry DNP, PHN, RN, her network of 40 nursing students and local community organizations, the event returned from a two-year hiatus due to COVID. Each guest was invited to use Victor Valley Rescue Mission’s mobile shower and receive a haircut from Bridges Beauty College. APU nursing students provided foot washing and each guest received two pairs of shoes. The event also included a warm Easter ham dinner cooked by Alan G. Godin, chef at the Lord’s Table.

The entire nursing student body of APU's High Desert Regional Campus donated, cleaned, and sanitized more than 1,000 pairs of shoes given away at the event. Any leftover footwear was donated to Goodwill, Rose of Sharyn Pregnancy Resource Center, and Victor Valley Rescue Mission.

Student nurses who modeled Christ’s example in the scriptures of washing his disciples feet during the Last Supper were profoundly impacted.

“Foot washing is a humbling and personal experience for the person receiving the foot washing and the person doing the foot washing,” said Usry. “To me, it's one of the ultimate acts of respect that you can give another person. It creates a heart/soul connection between the students and the community. You could see that today. You could see the warmth, and you could feel the energy. Everyone made that connection with each other.”

Fr. Hyacinth, administrator St. Joan of Arc, described that same energy when he saw the Mayor of Victorville, Debra Jones join the nursing students in washing feet. “I saw the mayor washing the feet of others, and my heart is full of joy, and everybody around here is full of joy—you can feel it. The joy is contagious.”

Additional organizations providing resources to the guests included A Better Way, Preschool Services, Community Health Action Network (CHAN), Ready for Reading Book Club, High Desert Homeless Services, God's Hand Extended, High Desert Second Chance, Symba Clinic, St. Mary's Medical Center, and nail services by Wendy Martinez and Kayla Ruiz.

Usry said she was grateful that the event returned this year, and she hopes that it will continue to inspire future students toward compassionate service.

Walter is the communications editor in the Division of Strategic Communication and Engagement.