Shoebox Ministry in Palmer
One of Billy Graham’s sons, Franklin, started the original Samaritan’s Purse/Operation Christmas Child on the east coast many years ago. In his program, shoeboxes, filled with items children need, were collected at a site back East, then transported to millions of children all over the world.
Cindy Hartley, participated in this program while she and her family were living in Texas. But instead of shipping them overseas, they decided to distributed the boxes to the homeless shelters and other helping agencies in their own community
The Hartleys then moved to Alaska and became members of the Palmer Church. Cindy became the Women’s Ministry leader and decided it was time to start that same program for the Matanuska Valley.
The first year boxes were collected at the Palmer church; the goal was to fill 50 boxes. The second year enough material was collected to fill 80 boxes, and in 2002, 100 boxes.
There was a visitor in the congregation when Hartley first announced the program and explained how it worked. Later the visitor called Hartley and told her that she and her six brothers and sisters had spent most of their childhood in an orphanage. Every Christmas, they would get a box similar to these and she recounted how much it meant to them.
That story is a reminder to Cindy that the boxes do have an impact that touches lives in ways we’ll never know. •