Thankful. Inspired.

With the holidays in full swing, I though I would share some things I am thankful for and some inspiration.

I am so blessed and incredibly thankful for my friends, family, health, home, and job. I am thankful for my college education, a family welcoming me into their home for the past 5 months, and technology keeping me in touch with friends across the country and globe.

My job with Operation Christmas Child has taught me a lot about the power of a simple gift. National Collection Week has ended, but you can still Build a Box online if you want to contribute to the cause! Now volunteers are pouring into processing centers to process the 5.8 million shoe boxes collected from across the U.S. to get the gifts ready to be shipped to more than 100 countries.

I want to share some stories about the power of a simple gift:

Oksana Nelson, a national spokesperson and shoe box recipient, says in her orphanage she had to share a toothbrush with dozens of girls, so she was excited to receive a toothbrush and mint tooth paste.

One boy received oven mitts in his shoe box, which may seem like an odd item to put in a shoe box, but his parents owned a bakery and he had scars across his arms from taking hot pans out of the oven.

Another boy received a shoe box gift that was packed in a reusable plastic container. Before he even opened the box, he was so happy that a staff person asked him why he was so happy. He replied that he had been praying for 2 weeks for a way to bring his mother water, and now he had a way – the reusable container.

God is truly amazing and He knows the needs of His children; He hears your prayers and He will answer them.

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Shoe Box Blitz

For past several weeks work has been crazy with preparations for National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child.

On Wednesday I traveled to New York City with about 100 volunteers and the community relations staff to blitz the city. The plan: dress up in shoe box costumes and go across the city to spread the news about Operation Christmas Child.

Once Kaley and I arrived in NYC, we went with the broadcast team to Battery Park to film a video. We danced around in our costumes and watched the sunset. The energy was high as we got passer-byers to dance with us and talk about what we were doing.

Statue of Liberty at sunset

Thursday was the official Shoe Box Blitz. My group left the hotel in our costumes and jingle bells at 5:30 a.m. for the Today Show. As we were walking through the city I learned that the special guest for the day was Robert Pattinson – yes, of Twilight fame. I automatically imagined hundreds and hundreds of screaming teenage girls lined up and feared we would not been seen on tv at all. However, we had a special section! Al Roker came out and asked Livia, one of our “full-circle stories” and national spokespersons, why we were dressed in shoe boxes and she got 1 minute to reply.

Then the chaos commenced with Robert Pattinson arriving outside and signing autographs!

Robert Pattinson

Next stop: Times Square. I assisted several ladies in costumes to Times Square and snapped photos to upload to social media sites.

Shoe Boxes in Times Squares!

After a quick break, it was off to Grand Central Station! We walked around taking photos, passing out rave cards and drawing attention to our costumes. Then we went back to Times Square and had a break dance face-off.

Thursday afternoon was had a shoe box packing party at Madison Square Garden with KLOVE. We packed about 4,200 shoe box gifts with the help of volunteers.

The Shoe Box Blitz was not just people running around in costumes Рwe were also blitzing social media. I used Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Twitter to update my social networking sites and we utilized #shoeboxblitz and tagging Operation Christmas Child in posts all day. Over the course of the day we increased our number of Facebook likers by about 10,000!

The Shoe Box Blitz was so much fun! I enjoyed being part of the team to make this success through social media, working with volunteers and wandering the city.

Media associates at Hard Rock Cafe