HOHServe: The School Girl Project Via Mercy House

For those that have been around the House of Hills for several years, you know that I have a big heart for Mercy House. In fact, we’ve been supporters of  Mercy House since I discovered them back in 2010.


Well, Kristin has brought another need to my attention via her blog, We Are That Family. It seems that teenage girls in Africa are skipping school. They’re not skipping because they don’t want to go. They’re skipping because of their monthly cycle. They just don’t have the supplies they need to take care of business and so hide in their homes once a month.

Now, I have a teenage girl, and I can say that I see her wanting to hide in the house for a multitude of reasons in the future. (I mean, I remember wanting to hide in my house as a teenage girl. Don’t you?) However, I can say with some confidence that her cycle isn’t going to keep her at home. And, it shouldn’t keep these young girls in Africa home either.

Kristin has given us a VERY EASY way to help with this problem. And, she explains it quite well in her post over at We Are That Family. However, let me break it down for you.

You can mail: 
1. A check made out to “Mercy House” with “School Girl Project” in the memo line.
2. Sanitary Pads (all brands and sizes)  – please note that these girls don’t even have clean drinking water so while there are washable options available on the market, disposable is the way to meet the need right now.

If you want to mail sanitary pads, I did a little Amazon research for you. Both these options are Prime available. (affiliate links)



Mail your check or sanitary pads to:

Mercy House

8000 Research Forest Dr. Set 115-110

Spring, TX 77382

Deadline: Sept 26, 2015

Thank you for considering helping girls across the world so that they can continue to go to school. Nobody wants to miss the opportunity for an education.

31 Days of OCC: Packing Party

Everybody likes a party – right!? Well, almost everybody. Extroverts like a party. And, we’ve got TWO of those living in the House of Hills. So, several years ago we decided that we’d celebrate my birthday with a party—an Operation Christmas Child packing party!! We even had birthday cupcakes supplied by My Katie.


Now, we’ve got the packing party down to a science here at the HOH. In fact, I did a whole Top Ten Tuesday blog post on having an Operation Christmas Child packing party. Make sure you click over to see the details.

The important things are these:

  1. Decide who is supplying the box contents. Is it you, your guests or a combination?
  2. Have a festive environment so that everyone has a good time.
  3. Be sure to collect the shipping money.
  4. Pray over the boxes.
  5. Know where you’re going to take the boxes once they’re packed.

That’s the basics. Then, it comes down to the details. I typically collect items throughout the year and then ask my guests to bring more age specific items to complete the boxes. Before the party, we line the hall with every container we can find in the house and sort all the crazy stuff I’ve collected throughout the year.


When my guests arrive, they take a box (I order mine from OCC, but you can use shoeboxes too.) and start filling it with what I have in the hall. Then, they finish it off with the items they brought with them. Finally, they print a shipping label through the OCC website (we have a computer and printer) set up in the living room and attach it to the box. They all end up in the back of my van and get taken to my church, which is a drop off location.


I love the site of my van filling up with boxes. It makes me happy every year.

Now, don’t think your packing party has to be a big, huge one like mine. I kinda like to do parties up, and now it’s become a tradition that people calendar months in advance. (Seriously, my friend Angela asked me in July when this year’s is so she could get it on her calendar.)

Your packing party can be just your family or yours and the one that lives next door. Or, maybe you are in a small group through church, and you want to get those families together to pack boxes. Or, your Bunko group might want to pack boxes before the next Bunko night. Oh, what about that playgroup that meets once a month—maybe they’d like to pack boxes. It could even be those friends from high school that you’ve been meaning to get in touch with, but needed a purpose to call them.

Whatever group you pull together, be it large or small, remember that what you’re doing will impact someone’s life forever. That’s why it’s important to pray over the box. That box that you pack at the party will end up in a child’s hands halfway across the world. They will open it and know you care and that there is a God who loves them.

So, who are you inviting over? When’s the party?

Have you been following along with the Write31Days series. Be sure to check out what other bloggers are writing about.

31 Days of OCC: Why OCC?

31DaysOCCatHOH_HouseofHills.orgSometime in the last few years, I’ve become known in my circle of friends as “the lady who does OCC parties.” A question arises about OCC, and people say, “Ask Kathy, she’ll know.” The closer we get to collection week, the more tweets and texts I get with people asking me questions, “Can this go in the box?”

You wanna know a secret? I kinda love it.
I’ll answer any and all questions, and if I don’t know the answer I’ll find out.
I’m that passionate about it.

What started out as something that was fun to do around Christmas turned into a full blown, year-round endeavor in 2010. That was the year I decided that for my birthday I wanted to have an Operation Christmas Child party. So, I posted it on the blog and asked friends and family to give me box packing supplies instead of gifts. And, I invited anyone and everyone to participate.

We had a GREAT time that first year so we’ve done it every year since!!!!

Back Camera

But, why OCC? Why shoeboxes?

That answer’s easy. My love languages are acts of service and gifts. I LOVE LOVE LOVE to give gifts. Ask my friends. When somebody says they like a particular candy, I write it down to make sure they get it soon. When it’s a special occasion, I like to mark it with a gift. Actually, my favorite gifts to give are “just because I love you gifts.” Those are awesome.

So, what better way to show someone half-way around the world that God loves them than by giving them a gift. A shoebox is a tangible way of saying, “I may not know you personally, but God does. And, He cares about you.”

A shoebox is something those children can hold and treasure and share and love. Each item in a shoebox communicates God’s love to these precious children. Toothbrushes and toothpaste show that He cares about their physical being. A plush friend shows His love through snuggles and cuddles. Toys show that He cares about joy and fun.

Then, there is that one item that He puts in each box that He’s picked out just for them. I’ve heard story after story of children who opened their shoebox and found just what THEY needed. Maybe it’s hair clips for a little girl who’s never had her own. Maybe it’s a new shirt arriving just as the one the little boy’s wearing is too small. Maybe it’s a needed pair of shoes or a sewing kit or a hammer and nails. Whatever it is, that one thing speaks into that child’s life, and God whispers, “I know  you. I love you.” 

It’s the stories of those whispers that bring me to my knees in gratitude and awe. My heavenly Father loves me as much as He loves these little people a world away. And, I know how much He loves them as I’ve watched Him orchestrate hundreds of thousands of people to bring them joy in the form of a shoebox.

That’s why OCC.
That’s why I pack shoeboxes EVERY year.
That’s why I’ll do it until I can’t do it any more.

I pack shoeboxes to give the gift of God’s love.

Won’t you join me this year?


31 Days of OCC: The HOH Loves OCC

For the last four years on the second (or third) Sunday of November, the trunk of my van has looked something like this.


Isn’t that AWESOME!?!?!

The HOH loves OCC (Operation Christmas Child), and we’ve ushered in the holiday season (and celebrated my birthday) with a huge party right before collection week since 2010.

In 2010, we packed 89 boxes.
In 2011, we packed 110 boxes.
In 2012, we packed 75 boxes.
In 2013, we packed 50 boxes.

Like I said, the HOH loves OCC, and I want to share that love with you, my Internet friends. I’ll be talking about OCC here on the blog for the next 31 days. We’ll talk about the history of OCC, how to pack a box, what to put in a box, how to get a box where it needs to go and so much more.

So, get ready to pack some boxes friends, because by the time the month is done, you’ll know exactly what to do… just in time for National Collection Week! This year, National Collection Week is November 17 -24, and I’ll be hosting my annual party on November 15th. I can’t wait to share all the fun with you!

So come back every day in October to see the newest 31 Days post. I’ll be linking up to #Write31Days along thousands of other bloggers. It’s going to be an awesome month.


#GivingTuesday 2013

Have you shopped ’till you dropped? Worked your fingers to the bone getting good deals?

Now it’s time to type that credit card number in one more time. This time, it’s to give a little help to someone who needs a gift even more than Aunt Edna needs that awesome scarf you grabbed for her.

Giving Tuesday

#GivingTuesday began as a grass roots movement, and really got some social media chops in 2012 making a significant impact in the number of online donations.

I KNOW you want to be a part of it this year!

While you’re thinking about where you want to give you Giving Tuesday donation, please enjoy this awesome video starring one of my favorite people, Carrie Hood. My Maggie has had the honor of working with her both as a co-star and director, and she is truly an amazing lady. I love this video.

If you aren’t interested in helping out CARE fight global poverty as Carries suggests, I’ve made a list of organizations that I support. I encourage you to pick one and make a difference.

Operation Christmas Child: You all know that OCC is my biggest soft spot. I just love the idea of kids getting a gift. Even though collection week is over, you can still pack a box online.

Samaritan’s Purse: Not only does Samaritan’s Purse organize Operation Christmas Child, but they do amazing work all over the world. If there is a disaster, they are there in hours. Currently, they are working hard in the Phillippines.

Mercy House Kenya: I watched Kristen start this project through her blog and have been donating monthly to this amazing project from the beginning. They’re in the process raising funds for a second house in Kenya.

Food For Thought: This is a food collection organization in my community that we support every time we can. They do an awesome job keeping food pantries all around my county full. If you don’t live near me, find a food pantry near you to support.

Your Local Church: I can’t provide you a link to your church, but I bet you know how to donate to them. The local church is the hands of Jesus to many, and they can always use some financial help.

So, take a minute. Pray if you’re so inclined. Make a decision and give.


Operation Christmas Child Party 2013

It’s the beginning of November, and that means two things.

It’s almost my birthday, AND Operation Christmas Child collection week is coming soon!


As always, we will be combining those two things  at the House of Hills

This will be our fourth year partying it up with Operation Christmas Child!!

In 2010, we had the party at our temporary house. We packed 89 boxes that day! It was so much fun!

In 2011, for my 40th birthday, our goal was to hit 120 boxes… 3 for every year of my life. We almost made it. We dropped off 110 boxes. I was so pleased.

In 2012, we packed boxes on election day in our tiny house. We packed 75 boxes to send to those in need. We also collected items for Super Storm Sandy victims. It was a great day!

This year’s party is on November 16th. If you’re a local friend, you’ve probably been invited to my OCC Birthday Party Facebook page. If not and you want to be, let me know!

If you would like to pack a box for my birthday and aren’t in town,  you can one online  at Samaritan’s Purse.

Here’s what I’m providing this year at my OCC party:

  • The box
  • Bouncy balls
  • Wash cloths
  • Toothbrushes
  • Crayons
  • Candy
  • Miscellaneous extras
  • Snacks and drinks

Here’s what you need to bring to the OCC party:

  • Age specific toys
  • Age specific clothing (optional)
  • Toothpaste
  • Bar of soap double baggied
  • $7 cash or check per box (have to put in each box) – or you can print labels to track your box online before you come by visiting here.

For more information about what to pack in an Operation Christmas Child shoebox, visit Samaritan’s Purse.

Be sure to check out this Operation Christmas Child Pinboard to help you get ideas!

This party has become one of my favorite days of the year. My goal this year is to do another 75 boxes.

Who wants to help me?


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Singing and Dancing for a GREAT Cause

Last week I sent my girl to drama camp. Well, there’s nothing really amazing about that is there? But, this camp was different.

See, my awesome, amazing, lovely, wonderful friend, Jana, lost her husband last month. He had a brain aneurism. In a matter of days, Jana lost her best friend, and four beautiful girls lost their father.

In addition, drama students from all over the county lost a leader, a visionary, a man who wanted to make a difference in the world. Cue52 lost one of its founders.

It was (and still is) heartbreaking.

Maggie has done a couple shows with Cue52, and Jana leads her worship team on Sunday mornings. So, when they decided to do a drama camp to raise money for the Jackson ladies, we were all in!

Over 70 kids came to camp last week. Every penny that was paid as “tuition” was given to the Jacksons. All the mentors (that’s what they call the leaders) donated their time, and moms pitched in to do everything they could.

Friday night, they put on a show. It was fantastic!!!

My girl was chosen to play Ariel, and she loved it. But more awesome than that was to watch sixty girls dressed like princesses all working together to shower their love on Princess Jana.

Princess Jana and Maggie





We love the Jackson girls, and I know from losing my Katie over two years ago that their journey into this new life has just begun. They will continue to need support both spiritually and financially. If you would like to help with the latter, you can at Cue52.com.


Losing My Locks

Friday was the two year anniversary of losing my Katie. This year wasn’t as rough as last year, but the memories of each hour still linger and tears still rise.

However, this year I celebrated by doing something special.

I went from this :


To this :


All in the span of like 45 minutes.

And, I have this to show for it.


It’s getting put in the mail on Tuesday to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program.

I started growing my hair after my Katie died. Not because I thought about donating it, but because I was too lazy to get it cut. Then, all of the sudden a year had passed and I hadn’t gotten a hair cut. So I figured, why not grow it out for someone who might need it.

The funniest thing is that for years I told Katie I would do just about anything for her but I couldn’t grow out my hair. It’s too thick. It’s too hot. However, after I watched her fight and fight to stay with her kids and husband, I realized I could push through and handle being uncomfortable and hot for a few months of my life.

So, I did it.

I grew it out.

I chopped it.

And now, I pray for whomever gets my hair. I pray that they know they are beautiful. I pray that whatever their circumstances they are surrounded by love. I pray that in some small way this donation makes a difference.

Someone asked me yesterday if I was going to grow it out again. Ironically, I wish I could. But, I’ve got too much gray. They won’t take it if it’s more than 5% gray, which I’m pushing. So, this was my one chance.

And, I’m glad I took it.


30 Day Giving Challenge Day 16 2012

The House of Hills is once again participating in the


Our goal is to give something EVERY day of the month. Big or small, every give is a gift to someone! Join the giving with us. We’d love to hear what you’re doing.

Many parts of the Northeast are still reeling from the affects of Superstorm Sandy. We at the House of Hills wanted to do our part to help out so we collected items needed at my Operation Christmas Child Birthday Party last week.

Today, I mailed the package.

It was actually rather emotional. I prayed over the box as I dropped it off. I wished I could do more. I never feel like I can do enough in situations like this. I feel blessed to have so much while others are suffering and have so little. The man at the shipping store said he’d been shipping tons of stuff up to NY and NJ. We spent a moment being overwhelmed together.

There are many places where you can still give to help. The fight up there isn’t over yet.

Follow the 30 Day Giving Challenge on Twitter and Facebook.


30 Day Giving Challenge Day 14 2012

The House of Hills is once again participating in the


Our goal is to give something EVERY day of the month. Big or small, every give is a gift to someone! Join the giving with us. We’d love to hear what you’re doing.

With Thanksgiving next week, I wanted to make sure Maggie’s teachers knew how THANKFUL we are for them, so I sent in a little gift to tell them so. Remember, I like to send/bring gifts to teachers.

I sent in these cute Pumpkin Spice candles that I picked up at Cracker Barrel yesterday. They were already 40% off so weren’t very expensive at all. I put them in a clear bag with some crinkles and tied it with some ribbon. I even added a quick note I wrote on an index card.

A QUICK AND EASY present to share with two special ladies how much we are thankful for them!


Follow the 30 Day Giving Challenge on Twitter and Facebook.