Thursday, March 18, 2010

Toothbrushes and T-Shirts

This little girl in the Dominican Republic is delighted with her new toothbrush. I put a toothbrush in every box and the ones I've been using are fair but not great and cost 12 cents each with shipping. I've always wished I could put a higher quality toothbrush in each box, but so far the cost was prohibitive. On Saturday God provided as only He can. A Christian guy who runs a resale business and buys large lots of items offered to sell me beautiful Oral-B toothbrushes. I was able to get 12,000 of them for this year's boxes for 12.5 cents each--just a bit over what I usually pay for cheap ones. God cares about the teeth of all those little ones who may have never even owned a toothbrush.

Speaking of toothbrushes, giving a child his or her own toothbrush may help to save his or her life. In some developing countries (where the HIV rate of infection in the population may be more than 50%) whole families share one toothbrush. Not having to share can save a child from contracting a deadly illness.

God just keeps bringing in a harvest of items to pack boxes. Our clothing item total is now up to 7,416! I found that Dollar General has a lot of short-sleeve T-shirts that are 90% off that some stores still have in with their regular summer clothing. If you're near a Dollar General, check in the boys' clothing and if you find any T-shirts that have a $5.00 price tag (no blue dot on them) they will probably ring up at 50 cents. The new ones in stock are $6.00 so they must be clearing out the $5.00 ones. If an employee tells you they're not on sale, politely ask them to check the price on the cash register to make sure. You may net yourself some nice shirts. Since last week I went back to stores I'd already been to and got several hundred more items.

The winter gloves and hats at Dollar General are 70% off right now so that's a pretty good deal, but I'm holding out to see if they go to 90% off soon.

I praise You, God, for the blessings of this week--for T-shirts and toothbrushes--and for your promise of total provision. You are always more than enough.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


This has been a super shopping week. Last Saturday I traveled to three Wal-Mart stores and netted 410 pairs of gloves at 25 cents each. Then I stopped at our local Gabriel Brothers store. I'd been there two days before and none of the shoes were marked down, yet on Saturday I was able to buy 48 pairs of good quality shoes for $1.00 each. Sometimes I get the impression that God saves these bargains for me and has children in mind He's planning to bless with them. Add to that more than 50 shirts and sweaters and it was a good weekend haul.

I finally got all of that stashed and managed to vacuum the carpet in the house on Monday--just in time for Tuesday's shopping run. On Tuesday I had a hunch that Dollar General would mark their winter clothing and shoes down to 90% off, so just before their opening time of 8:00 am I pulled up to the door of the nearest store. When the manager saw me, she unlocked the door and motioned me in. "It's 90%!" she exclaimed as I grabbed a shopping cart and headed for the right aisle. I'd been there the day before to scout things out so I picked up my choices within a few minutes and headed to the cash register. I was able to sneak in a trip to one more Dollar General before I arrived at work 15 minutes late (good thing I didn't take a lunch break on Monday).

Instead of going to lunch that day I headed for still another Dollar General and snagged 130 more items. After school I hopped on I-90 and made the 20 mile drive to North East and worked my way back all the way out to the airport. I put 50 miles on the car but hit five more stores and the final tally of good clothing items was 377. That sorting and bagging is still in progress.

Yesterday I added up the number of clothing items God's provided so far this year. At this time in 2009 I had fewer than 3,000. And this year? 7,023 already.

It's abundantly clear. God is up to something big.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Lately I'm struggling with questions about whether I'm doing enough for Operation Christmas Child. At this time last year I was spending nearly every free minute packing boxes or getting ready to pack boxes. When I watched television, I would be wrapping boxes or bagging candy. I usually spent one weekend day and one weekday evening packing boxes.

But this year I'm not doing any of that. I don't know whether to collect boxes from shoe stores because I don't know where to store them. I don't know whether to start packing boxes because I can't figure out where to put them either. So am I doing enough?

Of course there's always the time spent bargain shopping. I can't resist following the leads I hear about on the OCC Extranet or on Facebook. I don't want to miss one chance to get a great deal. For example, on Tuesday I left for work a half hour early so I could go to the eastside Wal-Mart to see if they had Valentine's items on sale (nothing there) then stopped at a Dollar General to see if the winter clothing items were 90% off (not yet) then went to Rite-Aid to check for Valentine's items I heard were 90% off (missed them--all gone). When school was out I traveled across the interstate to Target where I finally scored a victory and picked up 116 pairs of kids' winter gloves for $16.00.

Is it enough?

My ministry description says I ought to be spending 15 hours a week on OCC. I could be making a lot of phone calls in 15 hours. I look at the red rubber braclet on my wrist that reminds me in bold letters to "Pray for O.C.C." I've been praying but not for 15 hours a week. I've been asking God to do what only He can do, but is there more that He's calling me to do?

How do I know when it's enough?