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Spearfish eighth grader Ambrie Zanton raises $450 for Shoebox Christmas gifts

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communication, Dakotas UMC

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A child receiving a Shoebox Christmas gift smiles with delight. Dakotas Conference file photo.

“God had a big part. I hoped to raise $50-75 from a bake sale. I was completely shocked to receive $450,” says Ambrie Zanton, a member of the United Methodist Church in Spearfish, South Dakota.

Zanton, an eighth grader, was inspired to fill even more shoeboxes after an outing with her youth group at Spearfish UMC to purchase items for Shoebox Christmas gifts. So, she decided to hold a bake sale at church Sunday morning between and after worship services.

Ambrie spent her weekend, about 12 hours, baking cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and more—all on her own. With the assistance of her mom, she mixed, baked, and frosted, about 12 dozen items. “I put it all in my room. I had to keep it away from the cat, my sister, and my bother,” she says.

She contacted her pastor, Rev. Scott McKirdy, to ask permission to offer her baked goods for sale at the church to raise funds to buy items for Shoebox Christmas gifts. “My pastor told me that it was too late to get an announcement in the bulletin. He asked me to talk about it, at the services, in front of everyone. I was scared, but I did it," says Ambrie.

The baked goods were offered for the price of a freewill donation. Zantron says, “I asked people to give what they could. I thought if they could please give a quarter, that would really help!”

Her dad helped Ambrie bring all of the baked goods into the church. The baked goods were set up in the back of the church on a couple of tables. After the first service, five customers immediately flocked to the table.

“I was happy and overwhelmed. People kept coming and buying things. My dad helped a lot,” Zantron says.

People gave her a lot of positive feedback. Ambrie heard comments from customers like: “This is a really good cause. It is really cool that someone so young is doing this.”

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Ambrie Zanton shows off the receipt after spending four hours shopping for items to fill 12 Shoebox Christmas gifts. Photo courtesy of Ambrie Zanton.

Everything sold, and the total amount of money available to purchase gifts was $450. So Zanton headed to Walmart with a list of all the age groups and suggestions for gift items for each age group and gender. “My goal was to get one Shoebox gift for each age group and each gender. That is 12 total boxes,” she explains.

After four long hours at the store, shopping with her mother, the mission was accomplished. “I was exhausted. I didn’t realize how tough shopping could be,” Ambrie says. “I was so surprised when we were checking out, and the bill was $475. I didn’t have to put anything back; my mom gave me the extra needed. We loaded up and got home at 11 p.m. I was thankful that the next day, we did not have school.”

Her youth leader, Brenda Swanson, was amazed. “She single-handedly filled 12 shoeboxes! Isn’t it amazing what a difference one person, with an amazingly generous and supportive church family, can do!”

Zanton expresses her thanks to God for helping her be brave. “I thank God for helping me raise the money. I really like serving. Anyone can do this if they stick with what they are good at. For me, it is baking. Someone else might be good at art.”

Shoebox Christmas gifts are built from love for children that might not otherwise get a Christmas gift. On the reservation, up to 70 percent of the children would not get a Christmas gift if not for the Shoebox Christmas Gift program and the generosity of the people that donate to this wonderful program. Learn more about what to put in a Shoebox Christmas gift here.  Get the details on where to deliver your Shoebox Christmas gifts here


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