People ask Kari Blass all the time, “How did you pack so many boxes?”
She always responds with a smile, “God always provides. He always provides. Every single time.”
Blass knows first-hand how God provides. Her husband is disabled and can’t work and they live on one income. “People look at me and say, ‘how does she do it?’ God has always provided for us, always.”
With that confidence, Blass knew God would provide everything her Denver, North Carolina, team needed. And there was no better name for the group than — He Provides We Pack.
This is Blass’ third year taking part in “Bikers with Boxes” at the Billy Graham Library, which serves as the kickoff for Operation Christmas Child’s collection season. Saturday, 1,260 bikers came out and helped to collect a total of 5,242 boxes.
For years Blass helped her mom pack shoeboxes. She then volunteered at her church during the shoebox collection season. But a couple of years ago, God placed it on her heart to branch out on her own and lead a team with a new goal. “God gave my friend Gwen and me the same number without us telling each other,” she shared. That number – God wanted them to collect 1,000 boxes. “If God wants us to do this, He’s going to provide,” Blass said.
They knew the goal was well beyond their reach – but a perfect opportunity for God to show up and show off in amazing ways and provide. And He did. “We had people putting shoeboxes in their spare bedrooms, in their garage, boxes were everywhere,” Blass said.
And that’s how the group, He Provides We Pack, got started. What began with a couple of friends, now has grown into a year round passionate team venture. There’s a core team of 11 leaders but they have others who host packing parties. There are some who shop and some who give. “We shop and pack. Five of my girls – they use their third bedroom, their garages have stuff, their attics have stuff,” Blass said.
The first year they met their goal of 1,000 boxes and every year it has increased. This year the group assembled 2,000 boxes and took home the top prize of the group who collected the most boxes.
Blass has a burden on her heart for these children. She’s even had the opportunity to meet several Operation Christmas Child recipients. Last year, as she and a friend volunteered at the processing center in Charlotte, she met one of those recipients named Yves. “God put him in front of me to make what we do tangible. I could touch him. I could see him. I could talk to him. I could hug him,” she shared. That fueled her passion to spread the Gospel to these children even more.
A big surprise came for the group the day of the event this year. It’s a surprise only God could orchestrate. After unloading two massive trailers filled with shoeboxes, the group walked around at the event. Suddenly, a man with Samaritan’s Purse stopped them. David Clemmer works with Samaritan’s Purse during shoebox season. He’s also a missionary, has a special needs orphanage in Peru, and works with a church that hands out shoeboxes to street children. Clemmer immediately recognized the group’s t-shirts with their name splattered on the front, He Provides We Pack. He wanted to talk to them and shared how he had personally handed out their shoeboxes to the children in the streets of Peru and the difference it made. Clemmer was overwhelmed at the chance to say thank you to the group for all their efforts.
“We work with street kids. There are over 240,000 kids that live in the streets. And when those kids get that box that you have packed and prayed over – it’s that free gift of salvation. It’s like – hey, this gift is for you!” Clemmer exclaimed.
God had not only provided the resources but the encouragement as well to continue. Blass reached out to Clemmer to hug him. She knew, once again, God provided.
So what’s next for the group? Blass says they’ve already started preparing for next year – with the goal of collecting 2,500 boxes. But she’s believing God to provide even more. She’s praying for a 2,000 square foot building to collect and store all the shoeboxes throughout the year. And while it may seem impossible, Kari Blass knows and believes God will provide.