For her 14th birthday, Mattie Shirey of Woodland doesn’t wish for any gifts.
Instead, she has a special mission: to spread hope, joy and love to children and their families through the Samaritan’s Purse project, Operation Christmas Child.
The project collects shoebox gifts filled with school supplies, personal hygiene items and fun toys, and currently delivers them to children in over 100 countries.
From donkeys, elephants and camels to motorcycles, trucks and canoes, volunteers transport these precious gifts “to the ends of the earth.”
For many children, it is their very first gift and expresses God’s love for them. In 2023, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect enough shoeboxes to reach another 11 million children.
And Mattie—who comes from a family of year-round shoebox packers—was cast a vision of her smaller part in that Samaritan’s Purse goal as a social media video played one Sunday in church.
It showed a family of over 30 orphaned children at Yahweh Children Ministries in Kampala, Uganda passionately and vibrantly singing of the “Goodness of God.”
They had no amplified microphones—just plastic bottles. They had no instruments—just stick guitars and plastic buckets they turned upside down for drums.
“They could really sing,” Mattie expressed, “but they had no instruments and so I knew my shoeboxes should have a musical focus.”
And, because she “doesn’t need anything” with more than a decade’s worth of blessings, it became the desire of her heart to bless other children around the world in this very special way for her birthday.
In addition to school supplies, personal hygiene items and fun toys, Mattie suggests small musical instruments like recorders, harmonicas, tambourines, kazoos and maracas.
Since Mattie’s birthday falls in December after National Collection Week (Nov. 13-20), she will collect items now through October to allow time for packing and delivery to a local drop-off site.
Mattie will be an eighth-grade student at Clearfield Area Junior-Senior High School in 2023-24. She attends The Vine Free Methodist Church, Clearfield, where she participates in junior church.
“I just love packing shoebox gifts,” she expressed, “and would love the help of my whole community this collection season.”
To make giving simple, she’s created an Amazon birthday gift list, which can be found by selecting “Account & Lists” in Amazon’s top navigation.
Select “Find a List or Registry” and enter her name, “Mattie Shirey,” then select “Gift List” from the drop-down menu and click “search.” In the search results, click on her name to access the list.
Any gifts will be shipped directly to Mattie.