WAXAHACHIE — The Southwestern Assemblies of God University-Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Waxahachie collaboration had hit a brick wall.
It was an impediment that could have soured Friday afternoon's Back 2 School Bash at the Boys and Girls Club location in Waxahachie if not for prayer, an anonymous gift and help from a local insurance agency.
In fact, Head Coach Jason Covarrubias and his Lions Cross Country team collected only 16 pairs of donated shoes through the first two days of the drive — a far cry away from the 100 needed to supply all the in-need children on their lists.
"The first day we only got four and the next we ended up getting 11 the next and final day. We were worried but God said, 'You haven't even given me a chance to help. Y'all guys didn't even pray over this operation.' Right before practice, we circled around the shoes we had and prayed. We trusted him and bought 53 pairs of shoes with a credit card."
He said what happened next was nothing short of a miracle.
The same day a local resident who requested her identity not to be revealed sent an email to Covarrubias asking if he and the team were still in need of funding. She asked how much they needed. Though he didn't know how much money was in the fundraiser's coffers, Covarrubias told the woman they had just used $600 from his account on shoes.
He said her response was another wrinkle of the miracle.
"She told me, 'God just told me to give you $800. Does that help?' I told her, 'Thank you, Jesus. Yes, ma'am,' Covarrubias said with a smile. "No joke. Yesterday about 7 p.m. I looked up and said, 'Boy you sure show up. Every time.' I sent it to [my team] in a text and their jaws just dropped. We trusted him and he came through. We just had to hold on. He's always on time — not our time but on time."
The team's collections and the unnamed resident's donation bought 69 pairs of Adidas, Converse, Nike, and Sketcher name-brand sneakers — far from the bargain Pro Wings Covarrubias remembered from his youth.
He praised not only Famous Footwear for the use of its facility and discounts that allowed SAGU to buy more shoes for more children, but also Virginia Allwardt, the proprietor of the Allstate Virginia Allwardt Insurance Agency. With an office newly opened in March, she sought a way to give back to the community.
Allwardt found it through Covarrubias, SAGU and the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Waxahachie by donating basic school necessities and backpacks — 66 in total — to the drive.
"Amanda, one of my employees, has kids that go here, so I started getting involved," Allwardt said. "They needed back packs and supplies and I told them I'd donate them for whatever they needed. I think it was just the need and wanting to fill it. I wanted to help. If I had the funds and the ability to do it, why wouldn't I? That's kind of why I got into insurance. I was in the securities industry for 16 years and branched out to insurance because you're able to help people. I get to help people whenever they're in need."
Amanda Rangel-Salas, Allwardt's employee, said their dollars weren't the only driving force behind the back pack donations, though. There were some — from those large and small — that made sacrifices for the sake of others.
"There were a couple of kids that were 7 or 8 years old that came in and donated some cash they were saving up and left us some donations, too," Rangel-Salas said. "We had a lot of people show up at the office and make anonymous donations."
Though shoes and back packs — as well as random miracles and aid from local businesses — made the event a victory for the community, Boys and Girls Program Director Teresa Evans said it was more about smiles on faces and the power three groups had to give back that made the bash a success.
"The kids have enjoyed playing with the staff and [SAGU] volunteers. The smiles on their faces when they saw the shoes was payment enough," Evans said. "The little extra brightness they got when they saw the backpacks was a bonus. It was like we were meant to do this for them."
Marcus S. Marion is the sports editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light and Midlothian Mirror. He can be reached by phone at (469) 517-1456 or across social media platforms @MarcusSMarion.