Meagan’s Box Foundation is forever growing
HUGHESVILLE – The thought of not receiving any presents for Christmas was unbearable for Meagan Murray of Hughesville. Since she was fifteen years old, she has been collecting gifts and donations for those who are less fortunate during the holiday season.
It all started when she was in 8th grade and did a service project by organizing a collection project for the AIDS Association in Lycoming County. When January arrived that year in 1998, Meagan said she really got a taste of the “Christmas Blues” all over. “I really enjoyed that project,” she said.
“What do you think if I collected toys and clothes all year long?” she asked her mother, Sue Murray. So for that first year, she did not tell anyone, and began to fill a plastic tote she kept in her closet. She would use her allowance, birthday money and any funding that came her way. “A three dollar book at Brodart’s was my first purchase,” Meagan said proudly. She also held a yard sale and saved change here and there.
From that first year of wrapping 36 presents, Meagan’s program has expanded so much that she no longer can use her closet, or her home for that matter. She called it “Meagan’s Box.”
This year the entire third floor of her home was filled, she told the Luminary. “I always want the gifts to be wrapped,” she said, “like they came from Santa. This is a good part of the project.” Finding a recipient that first year was a challenge as many organizations did not accept “wrapped” packages. However, the women’s shelter, Wise Options, through the YWCA readily accepted Meagan’s wishes, and a party for the children of the shelter was planned. The Sun-Gazette featured a nice article on her project and titled the story “The Unselfish Elf.”
From that moment on, the project became a personal passion for Meagan. She has graduated from Hughesville High School in 2009 and Penn College with a major in human services, and is now employed at the Center for Independent Living. Having a disability herself, Meagan is a powerful mentor and role model to others. She embraces her lifestyle with grace and leadership. She speaks to churches, sororities, and various non-profit organizations encouraging them to give to her cause. By the second year, the gifts doubled to 72 and were dispersed to three shelters – Wise Options, The Liberty House, and CASA.
For the past five years, the project has really spread and shortly thereafter, Meagan’s Box Foundation was formed. Meagan Murray has received some well deserved titles such as the Woman of Excellence in April 2009 and a Citizenship Award from Penn College.
“We were up to 600 in the range of gifts,” she explained knowing that now she needed to spread out the project within the county. The Son-Light House from Muncy has been added and she also acquired names to provide presents for children and families from local school districts. “It started with just a family or two, but now we have about 100 gifts going to local families.” Family Promise was added two years ago, and WIC last year.
“This year we added Early Intervention and the AIDS Association. We have come full circle,” Meagan replied excitedly.
On Thursday and Friday nights (Dec. 10-11) the Hughesville Fire hall was filled with tables piled high with gifts and toys. With the support of her family and friends, they spent two nights sorting, boxing and wrapping all of the donations. On Friday, Santa (Mike Bieber) made an appearance to inspect the elves and their workshop, and on Saturday everyone started to deliver the gifts. “My entire family is involved. This is the most we’ve ever had,” Meagan said as she surveyed the expanse of the fire hall. She added, “For the last 17 years, my family support has been tremendous. Mom says, ‘We’re sick with joy.'”
This year several youth groups such as the boy scouts got involved to help bring the gifts down from the third floor of their home to the fire hall. This is a good thing according to Meagan as it helps the next generation understand the concept of giving, and to help her in the future. “Sometimes they bring their friends from school to help,” she added.
Meagan starts collecting gifts from December to December of the following year. To make a donation to the foundation, she said to go on her Facebook page under ‘Meagan’s Box’ or send to PO Box 294, Hughesville, PA, 17737.
“It has been an awesome week for “Meagan’s Box” Foundation,” she writes. “Thank you to all my wonderful family, friends, and supporters of this project for helping make this another record breaking year. The total number of gifts so far is 1,613 for 2015. Making smiles happen is what this Foundation is all about. Merry Christmas and blessings to all.”