Phil and Cheryl Smith have been involved with Trail Life USA since the Nashville Convention in 2014. Soon after the convention, Phil began talking with his church about starting a Trail Life ministry. The Troop was started with just a few boys who signed at a table in the church atrium. Since then the Troop has grown to 50 boys and 17 leaders and added a men’s backpacking ministry that partners with the Trail Life Troop to equip and train boys
With a large active Troop, it was natural that they would begin to work with Operation Christmas Child. Cheryl had packed shoeboxes since she was a child. Excited about this opportunity, she reached out to her local OCC representative who she invited to speak at their church. From there, Cheryl quickly became the point person for her area and invited other churches to join in the effort. When Trail Life requested last year that each Troop appoint a point person for OCC and that one person would have an opportunity to go on an Operation Christmas Child Vision Trip to see firsthand the impact of a shoebox, Cheryl was quick to take responsibility and sign up.
Cheryl shared her passion with Hobby Lobby and the company provided 40% off coupons to hand out with the shoeboxes. In October, Trailmen stood in uniform in the lobby of the church and handed out shoeboxes with the coupons. Cheryl even set up a facebook page for project leaders in the community to share ideas and encourage one another. By collection time, her efforts with the Troop resulted in 1,600 boxes being packed.
In November of 2018, Cheryl was notified she had been selected at random from the list of Troop Coordinators to attend the Vision Trip to the city of Irapuato, in Guanajuato, Mexico. In February, the Troop surrounded and prayed over Cheryl before she left for the Trip. What she experienced on the Trip was far more than she expected. Cheryl says,
most families don’t understand what happens after they pack a shoebox. The gift is far more than a shoebox. This ministry opens doors, unites pastors, engages teenagers, and changes lives. The Holy Spirit moves in an incredible way in these simple events often led by youth where children find hope…and the lives of families are transformed…When I return I can’t wait to share my story…Next year, we will pack even more shoeboxes.
Operation Christmas Child is again seeking to send a Troop Shoebox Coordinator on a Vision Trip this year. Ask your Troop leadership about filling this important position and play a crucial role in transforming the lives of children around the world!