Prineville 11-year-old Mariah Cannon has made 136 gift boxes for the Operation Christmas Child program. Those boxes will go to kids all over the world, but she didn't stop there. Now she's making 150 to 200 boxes for kids right here in Central Oregon.
Mariah and her family have always been willing to help those in need. They worked through their church last year to make 12 gift boxes for Operation Christmas Child.
This year, Mariah went the extra mile and compiled 136 boxes to help kids who otherwise might not have gifts this holiday season.
"I imagined what it would be like to be one of those kids who didn't have much, and I didn't like the thought,” Mariah said Monday. “So I figured if there's a way that I could help them, then I would."
It’s that selflessness that has her mother and community impressed.
"Her heart is in the right place,” Kerry Cannon said. “Her heart is for helping others and sharing the Lord with others."
Recently, Mariah put on a silent auction at the Eastside Foursquare Church in Prineville to collect money to ship the boxes; she raised more than $1600.
Mariah is the oldest of three kids, and her mom says it puts her at ease, knowing her two younger kids have someone to look up to.
"It’s amazing. I think she's a really great role model,” Kerry Cannon said, “She's showing them how to care and love for others and not just be on their self-interest, and we're really proud of her."
In the past few months, word about Mariah’s good-heartedness is spreading through town. She’s now gone so far as to start her own organization; the "Big Heart Foundation" for distributing the gift boxes to Central Oregon kids.
At 11 years old, Mariah is just getting started.
"I want to go on short-term missions to Uganda at an orphanage that's called Otino Waa," Mariah said.
Mariah's foundation will be at Old Navy in Bend gathering donations Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1-4 p.m.