One child’s wish to Santa becomes annual ministry

It’s the question every mom wonders when her kid strides up to Santa with purpose, Carol Baker said.

She was riding the North Pole Express in Calera on a trip with her daughter Faith’s kindergarten class in December 2015. She watched as Faith walked over to Santa, sat in his lap, told him her wish and then went back to her seat.

“The whole time I was thinking, ‘Oh, I wonder what she’s telling him she wants,’” Carol Baker said.

So she asked.

And Faith told her — she wanted blankets for the homeless.

Carol Baker was stunned. “I said, ‘That is great, Faith — how thoughtful of you.’”

But her wheels were already turning, trying to figure out how to make her daughter’s selfless wish a reality.

And it wasn’t long before she, Faith and her now-9-year-old sister, Grace — all members of Antioch East Baptist Church, Greenville — got together with their friend, Staci Anderson, and her daughter, Charlotte Kate, and started the Faith Project.

“We started Facebooking and asking our churches, and blankets just started piling in,” Carol Baker said. “What a blessing that was.”

That year, the girls took the blankets to the Friendship Mission, a local women’s shelter, and the Adullam House in Wetumpka, along with coloring books and crayons.

“The experience — it was just awesome,” she said.

Faith Baker agreed. “Some of those people might not have had a Christmas before then,” she said. “We wanted to help them.”

Her sister, Grace, said the recipients’ reactions were the best part.

“It was really fun handing out the blankets and to see the people’s smiles,” she said.

The girls collected and handed out 200 blankets that year, then 550 for Christmas 2016. They also took boxes of new coats to the Brantwood Children’s Home in Montgomery.

“The response from the teenagers there was phenomenal,” Carol Baker said, noting that they also took shaving kits, toiletries, coloring books and Bibles. “The kids were just in tears because they’d never had anything of their own. The girls want to go back every year because they get to be Santa and tell them about Jesus.”

Staci Anderson said she was “so proud” of the way the girls just jumped right in the middle of the children there and helped them pick out the blankets they liked.

‘Depth of need’

“I think this experience has helped them realize in their little minds the depth of need in our community,” she said. “And as long as they want to help, Carol and I will drive them around.”

The three girls collected the blankets and other items by speaking at churches and local community groups and enlisting people to help, Carol Baker said.

“It’s just so sweet to hear them share their hearts — they don’t get intimidated at all speaking about it in front of groups,” she said. “And as a result, 750 lives have been touched. If three little children can do that in two years with Christ, what does the future hold for the Faith Project?”

She said she credits so much of the girls’ inclination to missions work to the GA leaders and children’s program workers at Antioch East Baptist.

“My 7 year old gets it,” she said of Faith. “She just has the heart and a passion for this.”