Ministry in a Shoe Box

By Anjelica Sloan (Age 12)

It is so very important in setting patterns for life to involve children in ministry to others, and to show them what they, even at a young age, can accomplish. This learning becomes especially effective when they reach out to young people their own age for whom they have immediate empathy. The following article, reprinted with permission from Young Life (Feb. 1989), is an example of such a ministry.

The Church School students of Saint Luke’s Orthodox Mission in Palos Hills, Illinois, had a chance to use their time, talents, and treasures. They started a Shoe Box Ministry. It was a program to help the Heal the Children Foundation. This foundation believes in changing the world—one child at a time! So it brings children who need medical attention from other countries to the United States. American foster families take them to the hospital and watch over them until they are well enough to return to their own countries.

Our parish invited a woman named Karen to speak to us and show us some slides about Heal the Children. She brought along some of her own children whom she adopted after they came here to the United States for surgery. She also brought a little baby boy, Noelle, who needed cleft lip and palate surgery. He had a hole in the roof of his mouth and no top lip. He would have died if he had stayed in his home village in Mexico because there was no way to feed him.

On her second visit, Karen brought Noelle back and this time, his mother, too! Some of the kids who could speak Spanish, spoke to her. Hearing her own language seemed to help her be less nervous!

Karen showed us slides of some of the countries she visits. We saw the shocking ways some people live. Some homes were made only of tin or paper! When we saw how much the children and their families were waiting for the supplies brought by Karen and her helpers, we wanted to do something to help. So we started our “Shoe Box Ministry.”


At Church School registration this past fall, each student was given a shoe box. We were asked to do chores to earn money to buy things to fill the boxes—things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, hair barrettes, socks, and even small toys and chewing gum. Twice a year the shoe boxes are brought to church—on Saint Nicholas Day and during Great Lent. Our weekly Church School collections also go to Heal the Children. All the boxes are then taken to Karen’s house. She packs them and brings them to the next country she visits.

Our Church School got involved in this ministry because of my mom. My mom got involved in aid and assistance programs in Third World countries right after she adopted my twin brother and sister from Korea about nine years ago. Our garage is the drop-off point for toys, used kids’ clothes, and medical supplies. My mom has all of us pack the things and then we load the car and take them over to Karen’s house or ship them to a warehouse in Marietta, Georgia. Pilots and stewardesses go to the warehouse and take boxes of supplies to orphanages and poor people in countries they are flying to.

Sometimes I get upset when I look at our own garage and see stuff packed all over the place. But whenever my mom starts talking about quitting doing this, I’m always the one who talks her out of it! I start helping pack those boxes and feel really good!


1. Have our church school children undertaken any projects that minister to the needs of others? What were they? Did any involve helping other children?

2. How might we broaden their exposure to the lives and struggles of others, especially children, who might need their help and love?

3. If they are not presently involved in one, help the children plan a ministry project, and support them in their efforts to carry it through.

Angelica Sloan is an active 12 year old parishioner at St. Luke’s parish, Palos Hills, Ill.