In some ways, Jordyn McNeal is like any ordinary 9-year-old girl. She loves the color pink, the movie “Frozen,” and doing arts and crafts. But she is, in fact, rather extraordinary.
“My dream is to make other kids’ dreams come true,” said Jordyn. “I want them to know that God loves them.”
That’s what motivated her to rally friends to pack 5,000 shoeboxes in 2015. She issued a challenge to youth in schools and churches. Through letters, phone calls, and Facebook messages, Jordyn got people from coast-to-coast involved.
But Jordyn wasn’t just looking to others to pack boxes. She personally set out to fill 1,000 of the 5,000 shoeboxes by asking stores, hospitals, and dentist offices if they would donate items like toys, toothbrushes, and soap.
“Her dad and I would not have been that bold at her age,” said Jordyn’s mom, Erica McNeal. “It’s definitely coming from God and not her genes.”
Jordyn hosted a huge packing party, inviting friends to help her fill the boxes with all the supplies she gathered. She also encouraged more than a dozen churches to participate in Operation Christmas Child for the first time.
Praise God, Jordyn exceeded her goal, personally packing 1,320 of the 5,161 shoeboxes collected through her efforts.
Big goals are nothing new for Jordyn. They are part of what her family calls love projects. “They are our family’s way of showing people that God loves them,” said Erica. Active in youth ministry, she and her husband grew concerned with the sense of entitlement they witnessed. The wanted their family to be different so they set out to intentionally invest in others.
When Jordyn was little, this meant packing a few shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child or buying diapers for the local crisis pregnancy center. But that all changed when as a 6-year-old Jordyn learned about a 15-year-old with brain cancer. Moved with compassion, she raised enough money to send the girl and her family to Disney World.
“When I was 7,” Jordyn said, “I felt sad when I heard that shoeboxes were the first gift children receive.” So in six weeks, Jordyn gathered more than 30,000 items from businesses and individuals, which allowed her to pack 1,002 shoebox gifts.
“No one is too small to participate in Operation Christmas Child,” Jordyn said. “Little kids can dream really big!”
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to more than 135 million children in more than 150 countries and territories. For many of these children, a gift-filled shoebox is the first gift they have ever received. For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, visit samaritanspurse.org/occ. National Collection Week for gift-filled shoeboxes is Nov. 14 – 21; however, shoebox gifts are collected year-round at the Samaritan’s Purse headquarters in Boone, North Carolina. During National Collection Week, some 4,000 drop-off locations will open their doors to receive gifts in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
This blog post was written by our WorshipLife Event 2016 partner, Operation Christmas Child. We are so very appreciative of their sponsorship and belief in our mission of helping Worship Leaders live out God’s greatest commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your HEART, all your SOUL, and all your MIND.” If you’re attending WorshipLife Event 2016 in Gatlinburg, TN, we hope you will stop by their booth and see how you might become part of Operation Christmas Child.