Suppose you never owned a toothbrush. And if you did you had to share it with everyone in your family!

My name is Mugs Barnes and I’d like to tell you why I love Operation Christmas Child.

A 10 year old boy in India, where it is 100+ degrees, received a shoe box. Some Norwegian from Minnesota must have packed big, puffy pair of winter mittens. The child was thrilled. He ran around the village, gloves on hands, yelling and smiling. He had to take the bread out of the oven first thing in the morning.

God knows each child’s needs.

A poor young Romanian girl lost her will to live. Her shoes were so worn her father wired them together so she could go to school. She walked to school through a land mine filled area so she could end her life. She made it to school. A man was passing out Operation Christmas boxes. “Come look what Jesus sent you” he said. Inside was a brand new pair of sneakers just her size!

God knows each child’s needs.

I met a family right here in Cedar Falls. They traveled to Russia to adopt two young sisters. They took a suitcase full of clothes with them. The orphanage keeps the clothes off the child to put on another orphan. They come with nothing. The girls were holding on to a beat up old shoe box and a ratty stuffed toy they had received from Operation Christmas Child 3 years before. It was all they had that was their own. When they returned to the states the family called the women who filled the box to thank her. The girls are well and living in a loving Christian home.

It is stories like these I heard while touring the Operation Christmas Child headquarters in Boone N.C. that touched my heart. God spoke to me. He said “Mugs this is your passion go out and share it with everyone.”

In just 5 years it has grown in to a real life addiction. I’ve gone from 150 boxes my first year to 300, then 600, and last year I filled 654!

When God’s in it…it just grows and grows.

I have a shoe box factory in my basement. It’s overflowed into the furnace room. I spend all my spare time making jewelry, knitting washcloths or decorating shoe boxes. I go to garage sales and shop thrift stores for hot wheels, dolls and stuffed animals. I have eaten way too many happy meals just for the toy.

I have a network of friends and people I don’t even know just dropping bags of goodies and empty shoeboxes off on my porch. Someone donated their 2,300 beanie baby collection to me. An old high school friend sent me a check so I could go out and buy 600 boxes of crayons. How big is our GOD?

I love giving these children things they don’t even know to dream of and hope for eternal life. I would love for my church family to get involved. Just think how many children we could reach together. Since 1993 over 100 million boxes have been delivered to children in 130 countries. Because of the shoe box program, 1/3 of those children have given their life to Christ and have been baptized.

Come join our packing party on November 8th from 1 – 3 p.m. at Heartland Vineyard Church  and put a smile on a lost child’s face.