At the beginning of last month, my girls and I put together gift boxes for Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan's Purse. If you don't know anything about it, it's a great program to kick off the holiday season. Read about it here. As we finished these boxes, I heard a voice in my head that asked, "why stop there?" and I couldn't come up with any reason why we should stop there.
Over the next couple of days, I had posted a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo, sent out a blast email and texts to family and friends telling them that I needed help putting together and handing out 50 homeless care packages in the area. See the campaign on Indiegogo here.
On day 1, I received a text saying the toothbrushes and toothpastes were taken care of. I. Was. Stoked. On day 3, I received a few monetary donations, but still far from my goal. By day 4, I started to get antsy. Had a little conversation with God that it's not a biggie if I pay out of pocket for it, but it would be helpful if I didn't. Before day 5 was over, I was holding a check with my name on it from a stranger for the exact amount I was asking for. I know. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor and then bawled my eyes out for about a half hour.
God showed me (once again) that He will take care of the how as long as I just focused on the why. The check was in the card that simply said, "Hopefully this will help make your process a little smoother." and it was signed, "with a cheerful heart".
Because of the generosity of all of those who contributed, we raised $115 more than my goal. We did make 50 homeless care packages and we were able to include a scarf, Tylenol, and a bar of soap in each one (in addition to what was originally planned as listed on Indiegogo) with money left over which will be used to create more care packages to be kept in our vehicles to hand out in the spur of the moment.
Here are a few photos for ya.
From this project, not only did we get to help those in need but God was able to use each of us in ways that He meant for us to do whether it's being an example to our kids, friends, spouses or to help spark that fire for His purpose in us or those we connected with. Here is a small testimonial from my sweet friend sharing her experience:
"Going into this I felt excited... excited to do something for others, meeting basic needs and letting some of the forgotten people in our
society know that they are loved and cared about by others and by God in Heaven. I also felt nervous, what do you say to someone who is
homeless? How could I possibly relate to someone living on the streets? I prayed for God's work and will to be done with my heart and
in the interactions.
The first person and every person thereafter was truly appreciative of the care package, and open-minded to me... a stranger who just walked up and handed them this gift, it reminds me to also be open-minded to others. I stopped for a man that was panhandling outside of a
restaurant, he was hungry. I was able to give him the package and he quickly opened it and started eating... meeting an immediate need was heartwarming, and it also made me extremely grateful that my basic needs are more than met.
What I discovered is that what you say to the homeless is the same as you would say to anyone- ask them how they are, share your love and
resources with them, and let them know God loves them. I also realized that I can relate to them in the most basic of ways- I need food,
warmth, and love too. :)"
Not only did we get to bring a little light into the day of those who usually get overlooked, but our neighbors gave us insight to be thankful for our homes (the guys helped one guy with his home so it would provide more shelter from the rain), our shoes (my son noticed that one was barefoot and wearing wet socks), each other (a comment was made that even having a conversation would be a treasure). Thank you so much to John, Gina, Jennifer, Lucinda, Stephanie, Lori and Leah for your donations and helping Him show me to stop fearing His plan. Thank you friends for physically helping me carry out this project and being the hands and feet of Christ on this day. I love you TONS!
Signed, With a cheerful heart...