As a homeschooling mom, Cory generally has an eye out for unique learning experiences—and knows when busyness and logistics make such experiences impossible to attain. When her oldest son suggested in early December 2012 that the family raise money for Gospel for Asia's Christmas Gift Catalog, she knew there wasn't enough time. But like a typical firstborn child, Zachary had already rallied his three siblings, set a goal and dug in his heels.
Family Plans to Help the Needy During Holidays
Originally, raising money for the Christmas Gift Catalog had been Cory's idea.
Several years before, she and her husband, Brandon, had learned how Gospel for Asia uses practical gifts to provide physical relief to impoverished families and share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
When it came time to buy gifts for nephews who were too young to appreciate yet another toy, buying chickens and pigs seemed like a fun way to give a present while actually making a difference for someone who could use eggs or meat for income.
After two years of doing this, Cory thought raising money for a bigger project might be a neat way to bring her family together by working toward a common goal.
When the catalog arrived in the mail, her 8-year-old son, Zachary, pored over the pictures for two hours and got excited when Cory mentioned setting a family goal. Despite good intentions, though, the scheme was forgotten until the first week of December.
“All of a sudden, [Zachary] brought it up again,” Cory says, “and I was really skeptical and negative.”
Cory insisted it was too late to start the project, but Zachary and his younger siblings, Zoey, Ally and Austin, persisted, making their goal the $678 Barnyard Bundle, which contains 12 farm animals.
“I was even more negative about that because it was a big ticket item,” Cory says, “but the kids totally had the faith that it wouldn't be a problem … They just plowed forward.”
By evening, Cory, Brandon and the four kids were sitting at the dinner table brainstorming about fundraisers.
Photo by Carley Anderson Photography
Cory thought raising money for a Christmas Gift Catalog item would be a fun way to bring her family together, but she worried that early December was too late to get started.
Son Revives Fundraising Plans at Last Minute
As the family tossed around ideas, Cory and Brandon quickly realized most fundraisers would only engage the two of them while the children watched from the sidelines. Wanting to involve even 3-year-old Austin, the family decided to make bags of caramel corn and hot chocolate mix with labels the youngest children could decorate.
The finances would be a stretch, but the family jumped into action that night, leaving their kitchen covered with sticky caramel and cocoa powder. The next morning, they came to church with their stock of “Hot Chocolate and Caramel Corn for Hope.”
“I tried to prepare the kids that, you know, people might not be on the same page as us, or … who knows, is this really what God wanted us to do?” Cory says. “We kind of did it really fast. There wasn't a ton of preparing or prayer that went into it.”
When they told their pastor what they were doing, though, he asked the family to speak in front of the church, and after the service, every single bag had been purchased.
One single mom told the family she had wanted to buy a Barnyard Bundle but didn't know how she was going to raise the money. With tears in her eyes, she pulled a 100 dollar bill from her pocket and gave it toward the family's efforts.
“We left church just in awe—all six of us—because we just couldn't believe that God had been planting the seeds in other people's hearts before we even had taken the idea to fruition,” Cory says.
Community's Response Overwhelms Family
For the next week, Cory's family sold caramel corn and hot chocolate mix to people they ran into at their homeschool co-op, basketball practice and other places around town.
“Families in our homeschool group that don't even know Jesus were so impacted by thinking about others and giving to other people,” Cory says.
By the next Sunday, they had almost reached their goal. They came back to church with more inventory and told everyone it would be their last week, but many of their customers asked them to come back with more the next week.
“It was so crazy during that whole time,” Cory says. “I mean, literally, church would get out and people would start handing us money, and it was all I could do to keep up.”
In two weeks of selling, including three Sundays, the family earned enough money for three Barnyard Bundles, and momentum was already building for Christmas 2013. Seeing the project's success, other families with small children realized they could start a Christmas Gift Catalog campaign, too.
Family Expands Plan for Upcoming Christmas
“For me,” Cory says, “it's been a huge faith builder. … We didn't have the time. We didn't have the resources to make all of that caramel corn and hot chocolate. … I was just thinking of all these reasons why we shouldn't do it, why it wouldn't work, and I was really limiting God.”
Since last year, Cory and Brandon have talked with the kids about the impact of the animals and prayed for the missionaries who were picking which families would receive the gifts. While the family prays about their plans for this Christmas, the kids have already gotten a head start by selling artwork to friends.
This year, the family is raising money for a Jesus Well, which will show God's love by providing clean water for a whole village. However, they also plan to enable other people to meet their own goals. Inspired by a church member who gave them money to buy fishing nets, they decided to take orders this year, allowing people to give toward whatever gift is on their hearts.
“Who knows what God has in mind for raising this year?” Cory says.
What she does know is that this year she won't look at her family's efforts with doubt but with sweet expectation of seeing God move in families' lives here and all across Asia.
It's not too late for your family to be part of changing lives in Asia. Check out our Christmas Gift Catalog and see what God can do through you!
*Names of people and places may have been changed for privacy and security reasons. Images are GFA stock photos used for representation purposes and are not the actual person/location, unless otherwise noted.