As couples celebrate Valentine’s Day with gifts, a Reading couple is getting ready for a gift-less wedding this fall.
Jessie Queior and Tim Synan, who had their first date on Valentine’s Day in 2012, are engaged to be married Sept. 7. But the couple isn’t looking for gifts or money leading up to the big day.
They’re looking for shoes.
Jessie and Tim are collecting new shoes for orphans around the world through the Shoes for Orphan Souls® program, the largest humanitarian aid project of Buckner International, a Dallas-based social services organization that serves orphans and vulnerable children around the globe.
“We want our wedding to be a celebration and what better way to do that than to invite our guests to invest in something that both our hearts are drawn towards,” Jessie said. “At the end of the day, I get the amazing gift of marrying my best friend, and because we are so blessed we want nothing more than for the money people would have spent on us to go towards a bigger cause.”
Giving back to the less fortunate is a natural overflow of the couple’s love, said Tim, who along with his fiancé is employed by South Middlesex Opportunity Council outside of Boston.
“Jessie is the one who first found out about Shoes for Orphan Souls, and it was her excitement that drew me in to want to learn more,” Tim said. “That is just how she lives her life – always caring and always giving without wanting anything in return. I’ve never met anyone with such a big heart for people in need.”
Jessie first heard about the Shoes for Orphan Souls program while listening to a nationwide shoe drive on the radio.
“Hearing that I could help provide hope to an orphan seemed so overwhelming, but once I heard it broken down to how a simple pair of shoes could help change a child’s future it all of a sudden clicked,” Jessie said. “By donating a pair of shoes, we are hoping our wedding guests will be able to identify with a cause beyond just a signing a check. Each pair of shoes we collect will be hand placed on a child’s feet as the love of God is shared – there is no greater gift than that.”
Although friends and family were surprised by the request, people have come around to the idea.
“I’m pretty sure everyone thought we were crazy when they first found out about our plan,” Tim said, “but as we’ve had a chance to explain the purpose of the shoe drive we have seen our friends and family get really excited about it.”
The Reading couple hopes to collect 150 pairs of shoes through social networking and word of mouth. Friends and family are even holding the couple a “shoe shower” instead of a wedding shower.
“No matter what position he is put in, Tim continually blows me away by how he is constantly thinking outside the box as to how he can do more to impact the lives of the less fortunate,” Jessie said. “He is such a passionate person in all he does – always searching for a way to make a difference.”
Tim said he couldn’t describe how, but he “just knew” Jessie was the one.
“I think that seeing our priorities line up in the area of service is really what drew us together and what continues to increase our love for each other,” he added.