By James Bell
Like most children, Jagger Cohn loves bedtime stories. As his mother, Megan Cohn, reads with him, Jagger eagerly absorbs each story with childlike awe. This awe recently took quite a turn after one such story, however. Little did his community and the lives of numerous children around the world realize how much Jagger’s experience would soon impact them as well.
“When people can see what one 4-year-old can do, it’s amazing what can happen,” said Megan, a full- time mom and occasional real estate agent. This momentous event for Jagger occurred late last year as Megan was reading a story to him. In the book, Jagger saw a photo of a boy reading a story, too. Unlike Jagger, though, the other boy was not snuggling with his mother, wearing clean pajamas, or reading in a warm, cozy room. Rather, the other boy was shabbily dressed and sitting outside in a large trash heap in Mexico.
“The pictures made it all suddenly click,” said Megan, reflecting back on her son’s experience. “It’s very important for our kids to know not everybody has shelter and food and toys,” she said. She realized the concepts of poverty and helping others seemed to suddenly become very real to Jagger through the pictures he saw in the book, Operation Christmas Child: A Story of Simple Gifts, co-authored by Franklin Graham and Donna Lee Toney.
“I need to tell these kids that Jesus loves them,” said Jagger. Suddenly, he better understood poverty, but more importantly, his very big heart wanted to do more to help confront it. From that point on, Jagger was a lad on a mission, determined to recruit whomever he could in the small, generations-old, cotton-farming town of Kennett in which he lived, deep in the boot heel of southeastern Missouri. His parents were more than happy to help fuel their son’s fire.
Jagger spoke at Kennett’s First Baptist Church, where the Cohns fellowship and coordinate Operation Christmas Child activities. Jagger also reached out to relatives, along with employees at the local bank where his father Matt works. Megan’s colleagues in her real estate office heard Jagger’s pitch, too.
“Can you make a box for me? I want kids to know Jesus and I love them.” Jagger’s request was as simple as that, and within a few short weeks, he had succeeded in packing 52 shoebox gifts for distribution to needy children far and wide. But that’s just the beginning.
This year, Jagger’s starting even earlier, and he’s more organized and passionate than ever. Matt is helping get the word out through Kennett’s Chamber of Commerce. Matt’s bank is donating paper and writing materials, and a dentist’s office is giving away dental hygiene materials. Everything Jagger collects will be used for a shoebox packing party scheduled later in the year, closer to Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection Week, November 17-24.
For anyone traveling through Missouri’s boot heel between now and November, don’t be surprised if at some point you encounter an energetic, articulate 5-year-old with a very big heart and a very simple request: “Can you make a box for me?” Odds are it will be hard to say no.
Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, has delivered shoebox gifts to more than 113 million children in more than 100 countries. Through the power of a simple gift and the message of eternal hope through Jesus Christ, children learn they are loved and not forgotten. For many of these children, this shoebox is the first gift they have ever received.