Not Too Small to Dream Big

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Not Too Small to Dream Big

In some ways, Jordyn McNeal is like any ordinary 9-year-old girl. She loves the color pink, the movie “Frozen,” and doing arts and crafts. But she is, in fact, rather extraordinary.

“My dream is to make other kids’ dreams come true,” said Jordyn. “I want them to know that God loves them.” That’s what motivated her to rally friends to pack 5,000 shoeboxes in 2015. She issued a challenge to youth in schools and churches. Through letters, phone calls, and Facebook messages, Jordyn got people from coast to coast involved.

But Jordyn wasn’t just looking to others to pack boxes. She personally set out to fill 1,000 of the 5,000 shoeboxes by asking stores, hospitals, and dentist offices if they would donate items like toys, toothbrushes, and soap. “Her dad and I would not have been that bold at her age,” said Jordyn’s mom, Erica McNeal. “It’s definitely coming from God and not her genes.”

Jordyn hosted a huge packing party, inviting friends to help her fill the boxes with all the supplies she gathered. She also encouraged more than a dozen churches to participate in Operation Christmas Child for the first time. Praise God, Jordyn exceeded her goal, personally packing 1,320 of the 5,161 shoeboxes collected through her efforts.

Big goals are nothing new for Jordyn. They’re part of what her family calls love projects. “They are our family’s way of showing people that God loves them,” said Erica. Active in youth ministry, she and her husband grew concerned with the sense of entitlement they witnessed. They wanted their family to be different, so they set out to intentionally invest in others.

When Jordyn was little, this meant packing a few shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child or buying diapers for the local crisis pregnancy center. But that all changed when as a 6-year-old Jordyn learned about a 15-year-old with brain cancer. Moved with compassion, she raised enough money to send the girl and her family to Disney World.

“When I was seven,” Jordyn said, “I felt sad when I heard that shoeboxes were the first gift children receive.” So in six weeks, Jordyn gathered more than 30,000 items from businesses and individuals, which allowed her to pack 1,002 shoebox gifts.

“No one is too small to participate in Operation Christmas Child,” Jordyn said. “Little kids can dream really big!”