Friday, November 13, 2009 at 1:13pm
Amanda Sexson cannot remember a time when she did not fill Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box Gifts. “For as long as I can remember, I filled boxes with my family,” Amanda said.
“Operation Christmas Child is a kids-helping-kids project,” said Sheri Wood, Twin Cities Coordinator for Operation Christmas Child. “Amanda exemplifies that phrase. I am so proud of her determination to make a difference and her ability to mobilize her community to help impact the lives of suffering children around the world.”
In 2008, Amanda decided to raise money so she could fill more shoe box gifts. She was able to raise about $300. In 2009, she enlisted the help of her friends and neighbors. A weekly yard sale with hand-crafted and home-baked items by friends, neighbors and family from bird houses, hand-knit scarves, cross-stitched ornaments, hand-crafted stationary garnered $1900 for shoe box supplies.
The young entrepreneur blanketed the neighborhood with emails and 400 flyers announcing her sales. She and friends would stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning baking cookies before a sale day. Free water and cookies was a huge marketing success to get runners and bicyclists to stop. Once they stopped for the refreshments, Amanda and her friends were happy to explain about the proceeds going for needy children around the world. And to help close the sale, Amanda offered lay-away to the runners and bicyclists and had 100% of the people return to pick up their items.
The proceeds were judiciously spent. “I kept my eye on the newspaper (for sales),” said Amanda. The savvy bargain-hunter was able to “get all the good deals” on school supplies, soap and wash cloths, toys, and hair items.
Fitness Focus in Mahtomedi hosted the packing party on Nov. 12th where Amanda and her friends packed the items they worked for and purchased. Last year, Fitness Focus packed 250 boxes but doubled that amount this year. Families and kids from Stillwater and Lake Elmo participated including Rockpoint’s Youth Group.