Not only does Mary Purtee want to do all her shopping for “the boys and girls,” she wants them to have some of her favorite toys, as well.
The three-year-old Mary Purtee is an inspiration as First United Methodist Church of Eupora looks to grow their Operation Christmas Child ministry. Mary is proof that this ministry can help teach children about the importance of giving.
“How wonderful it is to see a child who is learning generosity and the purpose of missions at the same time,” said Ron McDougald, pastor of Eupora’s First United Methodist Church. “Jesus said…’unless you become like a little child…you can not see the Kingdom of God.’ I am grateful that several generations of folks at FUMC participating in this important ministry”
Mary’s mom, Gretchen Purtee, said they began collecting items for five Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes the Christmas Mary was 2-years old. Purtee took Mary with her on shopping trips so she could begin learning about the Operation Christmas Child and the importance of giving. She instructed Mary that they would be shopping for “boys and girls in need around the world and they were not shopping for personal gifts.” That year, Mary only asked for one thing at the store for herself, everything she picked out was for “the boys and girls.” And throughout the year, she asks her mom for items “for the boys and girls” every time they going shopping.
“She has blown me away,” Purtee said. “For her to grasp that it is important to give to others who do not have all of the toys and things she has and wants to put them into the shoeboxes herself. It melts my heart that God his used this ministry to teach her to give to the less fortunate.”
Mary’s enthusiasm has turned mom and dad into OCC “addicts.” Throughout the year, they are purchasing items for “the boys and girls” and it has taken over an entire closet of their home, and could take over more space as the year progresses.
“This has been a great thing for our family,” Purtee said. “We could not have taught her in any better way. God has been so good to impress upon her, and all of us, the purpose of this ministry and the importance of giving, no matter how young or old we are.”
It also impacted how the family worked with Eupora FUMC’s “Bell Tree” program at Christmas. The Purtee’s “adopted” a family of three children from the Salvation Army’s Webster County Angel Tree. Gretchen and Mary had just finished collecting for Operation Christmas Child, and by the week of thanksgiving, they were ready to hit the Good Friday sales for their “adopted” Webster County children.
Purtee said one of the children in the family wanted toys from the movie, “Frozen” which is one of Mary’s favorite movies. Mary has a microphone that she had recently gotten that played songs from the motion picture soundtrack. She had only played with it a little while, and when she found out that the little girl of the family loved “Frozen,” Mary decided she had to have her microphone. Purtee said Mary put that microphone down in the pile of gifts set aside for the three-year-old of the less fortunate Webster County family and did not pick it up again.
“That microphone was her prize possession. That is just how Operation Christmas Child has affected her,” Purtee said. “It is amazing. She has such a giving heart and we have God and Operation Christmas Child to thank for that.”
See this story in the June 8, 2016 edition of The Starkville District UMC newsletter at 6-8-16 newsletter.
See this story in the June 8, 2016 edition of The Webster Progress Times at http://websterprogresstimes.com/2016/06/08/child-has-giving-heart-for-occ-ministry/.
How has Operation Christmas Child impacted you and your family?