Giving Hope to the Missions

Aubrey Jean Anderson is a 10-year-old fifth grader enrolled in the Religious Education program at Saint Christine Parish in Marshfield, Mass. She likes to be called AJ or "Aubs." At the beginning of Advent, after a visit from the Missionary Childhood Association (MCA) to her parish, she realized she likes another name for herself, too. Aubrey likes being called a missionary.

Aubrey learned that there are children in Zambia, in southeastern Africa, who don't have what she has -- access to education, health care, or clean water. Many aren't aware of God's love for them. This troubled her; so, she decided to take action.

Armed with her Mite Box -- a paperboard mission bank -- and her newfound knowledge of what she refers to as "kids in need," Aubrey set to work. She says that it was the idea of kids needing help that she could give was her inspiration. MCA empowered her. She said, "I just thought, I can do that!" And so, she did.

Aubrey got busy at home doing extra chores for donations; she regularly swept the floors. She wiped down all the windows. She did a bit of snow shoveling for a neighbor and spent extra time with her precious grandparents. Each time, she would explain the idea behind MCA: that with prayer and sacrifice, we can all do our part for others. Aubrey said, "It just kind of stayed in my head what the money could do, so I would tell people. 'Four dollars could help someone get fresh water.' Things like that." When asked why she was doing it? She responded that she liked helping "kids in need."

In the same way the Magi presented their gifts, Aubrey bestowed her overflowing Mite Box on children a world away. She sacrificed her time and talent, raising $250 in the process! Some grown-ups seemed surprised that she handed all the funds in. Why not keep a little for herself as a reward for a job well done? Aubrey said, "I'd rather give the money to those 'kids in need' than spend it on something for myself, like an online game, that really isn't all that important."

What would she say to someone who came back with a quarter in their Mite Box? "Good Job!" said Aubrey. "Every cent counts!"

When asked what she would tell the real children from the missions whose faces grace the Mite Box, Aubrey replied that she wanted them to know that someone was "standing up for them." She said, "I think it would make them a lot happier and give them a lot more hope."

And there it is. Aubrey Anderson, missionary. Giving hope. Can you be like Aubrey?

- Maureen Crowley Heil is Director of Programs and Development for the Pontifical Mission Societies, Boston.