Idaho Woman Ignites a Passion for Shoebox Ministry in Local Church

December 6, 2019 • United States
Michelle Morgan has gotten her church, Christian Life Fellowship in Boise, Idaho, excited about packing Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts for children in need around the world.

A 50th birthday exponentially blesses boys and girls around the world.

Michelle Morgan celebrated her 50th birthday in an unusual way. Instead of cakes, cards, and carefully wrapped presents, she wanted shoeboxes. Fifty of them. And she wanted toys, school supplies, and hygiene items to pack inside of them. Michelle planned to prepare 50 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes for children in need overseas to commemorate her special day.

Michelle concocted the idea several months ahead of her November birthday and talked it up among other people at Christian Life Fellowship, the church she attends in Boise, Idaho, and got many of them excited about it. Finances were limited, so Michelle consulted several Operation Christmas Child websites to get ideas for obtaining free items. As a result, she visited dentist offices for toothbrushes, a credit union for pencils, a clothing store for T-shirts, a school for coloring books, and restaurants for cups and crayons, among other places.

Volunteers and members of Christian Life Fellowship pray over Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts they packed.

As a result of these efforts and her friends’ generosity, Michelle not only met the goal of filling 50 shoeboxes, but far exceeded it. In all, 175 boxes were prepared.

The accomplishment was special, not only because it was for Michelle’s birthday, but because it ignited a passion among the 60 or so congregants to work on shoeboxes year-round.

That was six years ago. Since then, the church has packed over 2,500 shoeboxes and become an Operation Christmas Child drop-off location, collecting over 1,000 boxes each year. Working with shoeboxes has also broadened the church’s worldview and has helped bring the congregation closer together, according to pastor Scott Guinn.

“It has helped to strengthen our bond and helped build unity,” he said. “We have become a congregation that has come together, united, to support a ministry that meets the practical needs and spiritual needs of children and families around the world. It’s been a means by which we can fulfill the Great Commission in a way that we otherwise probably wouldn’t be able to.”

“We knew that if it was a ministry that Franklin Graham was behind that it wasn’t going to be shy about the Gospel.”

Guinn said since Christian Life is a small church that it can’t support a lot of ministries. But the church enthusiastically chose to support Operation Christmas Child, he said. “We knew that if it was a ministry that Franklin Graham was behind that it wasn’t going to be shy about the Gospel. It wasn’t going to water it down. That’s a ministry we can get on board with.”

‘It’s So Much More Than Shoeboxes’

Michelle first learned about Operation Christmas Child 20 years ago when she homeschooled her three sons. “I just really loved the idea of it,” she said. “The more I read about what Samaritan’s Purse does, the more it got me excited about shoeboxes.

Michelle Morgan receives a certificate on behalf of Christian Life Fellowship that honors the church for being an Operation Christmas Child drop-off location for the past 5 years.

“So many people don’t understand the ministry of Operation Christmas Child. It’s so much more than shoeboxes. The kids get to learn about God and then they get invited to The Greatest Journey [the discipleship program for shoebox recipients], which is an incredible program. People don’t realize there is so much discipleship involved.”

Michelle said she will continue to spread the word about Operation Christmas Child in church (“If there’s anyone new, within five minutes I’ve told them about shoeboxes”), when she’s shoebox shopping (“You can’t buy 300 toy cars without someone asking you what you’re doing”), and to anyone else who will listen.

“People don’t realize there is so much discipleship involved.”

“All you have to do is just watch a couple of Operation Christmas Child videos of the kids opening the presents and you’ll want to do more and more shoeboxes,” she said. “And it’s so easy to pack a shoebox—but it’s so eternal.”

National Collection Week has passed for 2019, but’s not too late to pack a shoebox—build a shoebox online!