It's not about the toys
By By Connie Nowlin Managing editor
Operation Hope started about eight years ago as the prayer child of Steven Chaney. The first year the ministry helped 11 families in Pensacola have a brighter holiday by providing toys for the children of those families.
But it did not stop there, not by any means.
"I asked the Lord what my future should be," Chaney said Saturday as his crew got ready to open the doors on the first Operation Hope in Atmore.
"I wanted to make a difference for God. I followed the Lord's voice and here we are."
Last year, the program helped more than 700 families.
The idea, though, is not just to provide children with toys.
The idea is to provide them with hope, with the knowledge that they are loved, not just by their own families, but also by people in other towns. The idea is to teach the children that love comes from following God.
Chaney had never even been to Atmore, except to pass through. "But last year, the Lord put it on my heart to come here."
That divine intervention has made a difference in the holiday landscape for more than 100 families in town. About 400 children were expected to get a toy from the operation. The toys themselves were collected by Toys For Tots, put on by the Marine Corps out of Pensacola.
Willie Robinson, a local minister, had gone to the city council and asked to be allowed to use the meeting room in city hall for the distribution of the toys.
He and other outlets made applications available to the community, and then Robinson had the job of sorting through the applications to determine where the need was greatest.
"We were determined to help as many kids as we could this season," Robinson said. "It has excited me to work with a program like this. It is all about love and showing that love everyday. The response has been tremendous."
Plans are already in the works to