Paraplegic Volunteer Helps Process Shoeboxes for Children in Need

December 12, 2018 • United States
Matt and Renee Brinton of Shelby, North Carolina, volunteered at the Boone Processing Center in late November.
Matt and Renee Brinton of Shelby, North Carolina, volunteered at the Boone Processing Center in late November.

Renee Brinton served at our Boone processing center, thankful for the blessings she’s received from God.

Renee works with others to prepare items for shoebox gifts that arrive at the processing center partially full.

Renee works with others to prepare items for shoebox gifts that arrive at the processing center partially full.

Samaritan’s Purse relies on thousands of volunteers to process the millions of Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts collected each year for boys and girls around the world. Renee Brinton of Shelby, North Carolina, for one, is determined to share the love of Jesus with these children by doing her part. As the processing center in Boone, North Carolina, buzzed with the activity of preparing shoebox gifts for international shipping, she prepared extra items to be packed into shoeboxes that arrive not quite full.

Renee, a paraplegic since age 15, was inspired to serve while on a fall drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway with her husband, Matt. During the quiet, cold drive as they enjoyed the colorful leaves, she felt God telling her, “You’ve been in this wheelchair for 42 years. You’ve got to share this.”

When asked what “this” was, Renee promptly answered, “The power of Jesus Christ and the peace you feel in knowing that He’s with you every step of the way. Bad things will happen to good people, but we’ll get through them.”

YOU CAN STILL PACK A SHOEBOX ONLINE

Prayers Answered

As a sophomore in high school in 1977, Renee was elected as homecoming queen. Just one month later, she went for a drive with her boyfriend who had just gotten his license. He swerved on the road and Renee said, “The car started flipping and I was thrown out of the back of the car. I landed in a ditch on some barbed wire and broke my back.”

She spent two and half weeks in the hospital, while doctors took part of her hip to repair her spinal column, and then entered rehabilitation. Medical professionals told her that she’d be out of school the whole year, but through perseverance and faith, she returned to classes the following semester.

Renee said, “One of the most precious blessings God gave me is that I’ve never prayed to walk. I’ve prayed to make a difference and to move forward.”

“I’ve prayed to make a difference and to move forward.”

She did just that by graduating from high school and university. She lived independently in two locations as she pursued a career in banking and rose to the position of assistant branch manager.

In 1986, Matt asked her to marry him, and, then, two days after their second wedding anniversary, she gave birth to Matthew, their 9-pound son. Two daughters followed in the next three years.

With a smile, Renee said, “People would ask, ‘Who takes care of your kids?’ I’d say, ‘The same person who gave birth to them.’” People observed her around town with a baby strapped to her chest and a kid on either side of her wheelchair.

A Chance to Give Back

“I would change places with nobody in world,” Renee said. “Every chance we have an opportunity to volunteer or give back, we need to, because we have been so blessed.”

Matt said that volunteering "will make your heart feel good.”

Matt said that volunteering “will make your heart feel good.”

In addition to packing Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes with her kids each year, Renee volunteered in November at the drop-off location at her home church in Shelby.

As Matt served at the Boone processing center together with Renee, he loaded cartons full of shoeboxes onto pallets. Pausing for a moment from his duties, he said, “I’m just doing what I feel like God wants me to do. I’d much rather be here than scurrying around a mall somewhere.

“I hope it’s going to bring Jesus Christ to a kid.”

Shoebox processing is continuing through mid-December in Atlanta, Baltimore/Washington, Boone, Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Minneapolis, and Southern California. Shipping is underway, and the gifts will soon be delivered to children in more than 100 countries around the world.

YOU CAN STILL PACK A SHOEBOX ONLINE

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