Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content

Sermon Illustrations

Home > Sermon Illustrations

Rare Jordans in Donation Bin Auctioned for Charity

When James Free looked inside the donation bin, he saw something that he normally sees: a pair of shoes. Free was volunteering with Portland Rescue Mission, the organization that helped him to stabilize and get back on his feet after a season of addiction and houseless living. In his role helping to sort donated goods, he’d seen many pairs of shoes come through the bin. But these shoes looked different. They looked special.

It turns out, they were. They were a pair of limited-edition gold-colored Air Jordan IIIs, which were specially designed at the request of film director Spike Lee to celebrate his first televised Oscar win at the Academy Awards in 2019. Somehow, someone at Nike’s global headquarters in nearby Beaverton, got a pair of these rare shoes, and instead of keeping them or selling them, donated them to Portland Rescue Mission.

After Free saw the shoes, he alerted director of staff ministries Erin Holcomwb, who reached out to some local sneakerhead experts who could help authenticate their value. Eventually Holcomb reached out to Nike designer Tinker Hatfield, who donated an original box and several other design artifacts to complete and legitimize the shoes as a collector’s item. In their final more glorified form, Holcomb personally escorted the shoes to New York, where they could be authenticated and auctioned off by the luxury auction firm Sotheby’s.

Holcomb said, “In my seventeen years of working at the mission, this is the first time we’ve ever decided to resell a donation.” She says those Air Jordans are a great metaphor for the work they do at the mission: helping people rediscover themselves as incalculable treasures of humanity, despite having been discarded or overlooked by others.

The shoes eventually sold for more than $50,000, which was donated to the mission to continue their work. Hatfield said, “I’m thrilled the shoes ended up here. It’s a happy ending to a really great project.”

Related Sermon Illustrations

Librarian Leaves Millions of Dollars to University

Robert Morin, a cataloguer at the University of New Hampshire's library, "lived a simple, frugal life," complete with TV dinners and a car that was more than 20 years ...

[Read More]

Woman Receives 1000 Percent Tip

A suburban Chicago woman was left stunned over the summer when one of her patrons left a combined tip of over 1,000%. Nicole Thompson, a teacher who worked a second job as a bartender ...

[Read More]