top of page
  • Baptist Beacon

Shoes for Stebbins

by James R. Ellsworth

TECUMSEH, MI – Alaska Mission ministers to many villages in the Nome, Alaska region. One of these villages is Stebbins, Alaska on the Island of St. Michael’s, population 700. Brenda Crim is the director of Alaska Mission. When asked, “What can the people of Michigan do materialistically for a group?” She replied, “Tennis Shoes.”

Pastor Brian Jones handing postal worker Arielle Holcomb one of the 120 boxes filled with shoes heading to Stebbins, AK.

In March of 2022 an eleven-member team from Michigan headed to Alaska led by Pastor Dan Russel. This team joined 30 others from around the country and headed to Nome, Alaska to help Alaskan Mission with the Iditarod dog sled race.

While in Nome, the team served the Iditarod itself as security for both the dogs and the race itself. Volunteers also helped at the homeless shelter, children’s home, battered women’s shelter. There was a local men’s and women’s double elimination basketball tournament. The mission team took turns at the basketball tournament cooking and serving concessions. The proceeds from all the sales went to the battered women’s shelter.

The men that took the boxes to the post office with boxes of shoes in the background. From left to right: Tony Benjamin, Brian Jones, "Kink" Courington, Gregg Kizer, and Jim Ellsworth.

The winters in Stebbins are long and hard. In the dead of winter, there is only 5 or 6 hours of sunlight. There are no shoe stores here. It takes 2 plane rides to get to a town with a Walmart. The cost of round-trip plane tickets alone can be as much as $1,500, and on the return trip if you have more than 50 pounds in cargo the airline will charge you extra.

The school principal in Stebbins sent the Michigan mission team the sizes of all 238 students in the Stebbins school system from pre-K through the 12th grade. Tecumseh Missionary Baptist Church (TMBC) along with the Lendale Association spearheaded the mission project.

The 120 boxes of shoes took two full vans to deliver them to the post office.

575 pairs of shoes were collected and shipped to Alaska. A local store donated 106 pairs of shoes. More were donated. Many were purchased. The shoes arrived this July and are being distributed to the kids in Stebbins as they start the new school year.

From Tecumseh to Stebbins, boxes and boxes of shoes. Sometimes the best mission trips start with a question.



James (Jim) is a member of Tecumseh Missionary Baptist Church, Tecumseh Michigan. Jim has been married to Connie (Michelle) for 13 years. Jim is a member and an endorsed Chaplain with NAMB of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page