As all of the gifts and groceries for over 200 families in North Tonawanda were coming together, the Box of Hope outreach team realized they were coming up short of their goal of 210 boxes of groceries.
“We do our best to make sure every household gets a box of nutritious food we call a ‘food kit’ with their gift delivery. By our best estimate on the Friday before delivery, we were going to be short by 50 food kits,” said John Paul McLaughlin who oversees the details of how sponsors are connected to families.
Boxes are placed in every school classroom across the school district. Students, faculty and administrators then partner to gather a list of 12 non-perishable food items to make up a food kit. Food kits are paired with a specific gift for every child in each registered household and delivered to their doorstep in one night each year before the winter break.
“There was a lot of change in our school district this year. They did an amazing job of coming through for our community despite all the changes,” said Dan Davis, pastor of Renewal Church. “Plus, we improved our food list to so it could be much more nutritious and helpful to the families that receive them. Between that and the number of families that signed up, there was a gap. That’s when we put the word out through our Facebook page.”
The news came with only five days left until the delivery. A simple video was posted to Facebook and the donations started rolling in. Over $2,000 worth of cash donations were received by the end of the day Sunday and volunteers were able to put together over 100 boxes by Tuesday afternoon.
“We felt like George Bailey at the end of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ ” said Chad Rieselman, pastor of Lumber City Church. “It seemed like everyone from every side of the aisle came together for the cause; from the mayor’s office, to the City Council, a ladies auxiliary group, the School Board, the professional fire department, County Legislators, other partner churches, and local businesses. There are just too many to list. And now we’ve far surpassed our goal.”
Box of Hope is now going to be able to deliver gift cards for perishable items along with the food kits and gifts to every family on their list. Delivery occurred Wednesday night.
“You see stuff like this in the movies all the time, but this is an actual, real Christmas miracle,” Rieselman said.
More information about Box of Hope can be found at the website www.openaboxofhope.org.