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Stockings with Sass — Christmas 2017

Stockings with Sass is a first year, hands-on giving project with a lot of heart! It was created by a volunteer with the hopes of providing Christmas gifts to moms in our Family Care program at Alabama Baptist Children's Homes (ABCH)—and what an amazing response she had! Thanks to efforts that started and ended within a short, three-week period, all 17 of our moms in Family Care, from Gardendale and Alabaster, to Mobile, were blessed this Christmas with special gifts from women all around the state who wanted to give back and encourage our moms in this unique and fun way.

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Anna Leigh Marshall with a couple bags for Family Care moms

Anna Leigh Marshall, who has served in a volunteer capacity for ABCH the past few years and has grown up closely to the Children’s Homes, created and headed up this drive through social media. ABCH has always been a ministry close to her heart, and she has loved being able to contribute in any way she could over the years. Like us, she was amazed and encouraged at the outpouring of love and support received for this first-time effort. We asked Anna Leigh a few questions about Stockings with Sass and how, in the most detailed of ways, she saw the Lord providing for our moms:

How would you describe Stockings with Sass?

The women in Family Care come from homeless situations and are able to bring their children to stay with them for up to a year, all while working, saving money, and receiving professional counseling from a Christian perspective. Many of these women arrive to Family Care with one bag of personal items, which includes whatever clothing and toiletries they may have at the time

What began as an idea to provide stockings for each woman transformed into tote bags fully loaded with items ranging from practical, personal care items, to fun items that every woman would enjoy.

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What led to creating Stockings with Sass?

As a young, single woman, I struggle with finding where I can truly be used at times. I am not at a point in my life to serve as a foster parent, and I don't feel like I can contribute as much financially as I would like to as a woman new to the working world. I began to think about how many other women may feel the same way, wanting to help in some way, but not knowing how.

As I learned more about the mission of Family Care, I began to have such a heavy heart for these mamas. I have taken for granted my freedom in being able to spend money on both the things I need, and the things I want, particularly when it comes to things such as make-up, hair care, and clothes. I decided that this would be an amazing way to provide Christmas for women who may otherwise not have much of one for themselves. I also felt like this would be an amazing way to get other women involved in the ministry of ABCH by providing a tangible way in which they can give to other women.

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Women from a Sunday school class at Shades Crest Baptist Church participated in Stockings with Sass

 

What were your hopes and expectations for it?

When I first posted this idea on Facebook, I truly didn't know what to expect. I was nervous to post it at all! I wasn't sure whether other women would be interested in this project. I wanted to be able to provide a gift for each of the 17 moms in Family Care, but I was depending on how many people would become involved to really see what this would look like. My hope was that women within my community and circle would be interested in participating in this project because they can relate to knowing what every women enjoys receiving at the holiday season.

How were those hopes met and/or exceeded?

I was absolutely blown away at the response to this project. I remember praying at church on Sunday (the day after I originally created the Facebook group) that I would receive above what I needed so that there would be more than enough for the women in Family Care and extra for additional women who come in throughout the year. Within 24 hours of posting, I had commitments for the 17 bags needed, along with at least a dozen women who reached out wanting to donate individual items to continue to fill the bags.

How many ladies and/or groups got involved, and what would you like to share about their involvement?

Around 50 in total were involved in this project. I had a Sunday School class donate 10 complete bags, some women at a local gym donated 7, one of the (ABCH) Board Members donated 2, and then around two dozen women donated individual items to continue to fill the bags. Many of these women had not heard of ABCH or Family Care. However, when they heard about an opportunity to provide Christmas to mamas who wouldn't have one for themselves, they stepped right in . . . single women, married women, mothers, and grandmothers were all involved in this project. The generosity of the women who donated to this project is incredible. Many have already said they will begin collecting supplies early for next year!

How many items were collected? Bags created?

In total, 19 bags were created and 777 total items were given! Two extra bags were made for the Mobile Campus, and Family Care Homes in Gardendale and Alabaster received baskets with extra items above the completed bags to give to new women (coming into care) or distribute as needed. To say that we had more than enough items is an understatement. In total, I received $765 in gift cards to places such as Chick-fil-A, Zaxbys, Target, Walmart, Dominoes, and Shell

The 777 items donated included things such as loofas, feminine products, shower care items, shaving cream/razors, earrings, necklaces, scarves, socks, toothbrushes/paste, and nail polish/remover. That's just to name a few! I couldn't believe how many items came in during the three weeks I collected. One of the single women who donated said she enjoyed shopping for someone like herself, knowing just what she would need to get ready for the day. I think the women who participated in this project had similar feelings in that they were able to think about what they would appreciate not having to purchase for themselves. 

What are your hopes for our moms in care, in receiving these fun bags?

My hope is that each of these women will know how much they are being loved and prayed over. So many individuals, who prior to this project didn't know anything about Family Care, now know the needs of these women. They are cared for by people they will probably never even meet. I think that is one of the greatest things about this project.

When you look at each bag, what does that mean to you?

I am truly overwhelmed when I see each bag. They are packed to the brim with items I could have never been able to provide these women on my own. I think one of the greatest things the Lord showed me through this project is that He will use what you have (whatever it may be, however small it may seem to you) when you give Him all that you have.

I did not see myself as someone with a great deal of resources, particularly financially. But the Lord used my passion for ABCH and Family Care to reach so many women who were able to donate and be a part of this project. He used my circles of relationships at work, at church, and through ABCH, to make an amazing gift for the women in Family Care. It truly is not something I could have done to this extent on my own. But you never can discount how truly big our God is. It reminded me of the story of the loaves and fish. He took the little I had and multiplied it through the generosity of the women who became involved in this project. No matter how little you have, if you give it the Lord, He can do great things with it.

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