We are fortunate to have extremely generous donors and volunteers who give their time, energy, support and resources to Catholic Charities. As part of our donor and volunteer appreciation campaign, we are recognizing individuals and organizations who share God’s love and spread Christ’s light by partnering with Catholic Charities. Because of our donors and volunteers, we are able to bring vital, lifesaving services to our neighbors in greatest need. You #Inspire us. Here is Chris’ story.
About a decade ago, Chris was invited by Amazon to be a member of Amazon Vine. Amazon provides Vine members with free products that have been submitted to the program by participating vendors. Members then post opinions about these new and pre-released items to help their fellow customers make informed purchase decisions. Chris says initially he was a hot-and-cold member – it just depended on his desire to sift through all the items available to Vine members. Then, several years ago, he noticed Vine members had access to baby products, particularly car seats and strollers. He instantly made a connection to the “traveling crib” that the Family Services team at Catholic Charities of Oregon sends around to parishes.
Chris, an active member of All Saints Parish, remembers seeing the “traveling crib” at his parish. The crib stays at a parish for one month, parishioners fill up the crib with donations, and then Catholic Charities gives the items to a family in need. He put two and two together. “Car seats and strollers are high value items, especially for financially challenged families,” Chris said. For the next couple of years, Chris sought out car seats and strollers on Amazon Vine and then donated these items to the “traveling crib” when it came to his parish.
He was ordering and reviewing so many car seats and strollers, however, that his garage quickly became full of these items. He decided that there was no reason for him to wait for the “traveling crib” to come around to his parish, so he called Catholic Charities. The person he got connected to just so happened to be an old acquaintance from all those years ago – they instantly remembered each other. From that day on, Chris has been dropping off car seats and strollers to Catholic Charities three to four times a year.
In October, Chris came to Catholic Charities for one of his car seat and stroller donation drop-offs. It had occurred to him that last year around this same time he had toys laying around his house, so he asked the Catholic Charities team if they were ever in need of toys. The answer was “yes.” They explained to Chris that every year Catholic Charities has a big Christmas Party and gives toys to children in need. For some of the children, the toys given to them at this party are the only gift they will receive that Christmas. This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there isn’t going to be a party, but Catholic Charities will still give toys to children in need. The team was worried, however, that they wouldn’t have enough toys because the toys they had received and were saving for this Christmas were just delivered to children in Medford, Oregon, whose families were devastated by the wildfires.
Chris returned home that day and looked at the Amazon Vine products for toys and started ordering them and reviewing them right away. He decided to spend his own money on toys too. He told family and friends about the need for donated toys this Christmas and they stepped up in a big way as well.
To date, Chris has donated 229 toys to Catholic Charities, his sister has donated 100 toys, and their friends have donated 20 toys. Donated toys include radio-controlled cars, baby dolls, doll houses, games, razor scooters, Legos, and so much more.
When asked “why” he donates to Catholic Charities of Oregon, Chris went back to his faith. While his day-to-day job is working in the technology industry, he is studying to receive his Master’s in Theology. In his Systematic Theology class, he shared that his big takeaway was “this notion of building the Kingdom of God.” Chris shared, “If you are looking for a reason why we are here, it’s to build the Kingdom. We do it cooperatively. We work with anyone we can and do it anyway we can. I latched onto this. Being able to assist young families in need of a hand is the best way that I can do my Kingdom building.”
Thank you, Chris. At Catholic Charities of Oregon we wouldn’t be able to deliver lifesaving services to those in greatest need without people like you. You #Inspire Us.