A special son lets family find ‘light’

Tansi Mulligan and her son Mason, who was born with Mosiac Down Syndrome. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

By Tansi S. Mulligan

Special to the News and Press

In August 2019, we talked with our son, Mason Mulligan, about doing something extra special in honor and celebration of his 17th birthday in November. After throwing around several ideas, we chose “Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes.” Our family had always participated in this ministry through our local church. Once our boys, Mason, and his older brother, Marion, turned 3, they each began packing individual boxes. We would let them pick out items that they liked, which included toys, shirts, coloring books, crayons, markers and balls along with the essentials like toothbrushes, combs, soap and wash cloths. Over the years as the boys grew older, we would pick the age-appropriate box and they would continue to pack them with some of their favorites items. It became a real family affair in that Dad and Mom would participate in packing boxes, too. Now that we had chosen Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes, Mason wanted to share his idea with all of his family and friends. Once he decided on the number of shoe boxes he wanted to pack, we created a post on social media using Facebook to let everyone know about this special birthday project. The response and words of encouragement were overwhelming. Immediately, we began receiving texts, messages, letters and phone calls from family and friends who wanted to help. Mason’s goal was to pack 18 shoe boxes; however, because of the donations he received, we were able to pack 43 boxes. The outpouring from family, friends and the community was amazing. He was so excited when we tallied the final count. You see, Mason could not understand that there were actually children who did not receive toys from Santa like his brother and him. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but there were details about Mason that made this such an inspirational and heart-touching moment. As our family prepared for his arrival in November 2002, we never imagined the “extra” special gift that was about to arrive. This was not just any baby boy, this was a very special Mosaic Masterpiece. No, I was not talking about art, but about a precious child born with Mosaic Down Syndrome. Where most people spend thousands of dollars on one of a kind artwork masterpieces, God gave our family ours for free by way of this special little boy we named Mason. Now back to packing shoe boxes. Because of the awesome response Mason received, he decided to continue packing shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child every year for his birthday. In 2020, Mason packed 84 boxes for his 18th birthday. He also received a very special visit last November from Operation Christmas Child staff members. They took the time to interview Mason along with his Dad and I about this amazing “birthday project” we had started. The article along with the photos they captured were published on their website on Nov. 19, 2020, which just happened to be Mason’s birthday. After the article was published and shared, we again received such overwhelming words of encouragement, texts, comments and calls. Since that time, we have been busy collecting items and donations for this year’s “birthday project.” We have received an enormous amount of gifts and donations from family, friends, businesses and even strangers. Originally, Mason had set a goal of 100 boxes for his birthday this year, but we have already packed 105. With that being said, he’s now increased his goal to 500 boxes and wants to pay the shipping himself. We have already begun fundraisers to help with the shipping costs and with the purchase of items needed to pack our shoe boxes. In 2016, we decided to create some type of summer job for Mason. Because he loved tools and working with his hands, we decided to let him build birdhouses, bird feeders and carpenter bee boxes to sell. With the help and guidance of his Dad, Rick, Mason has learned to draw the patterns, cut them out, sand the wood and put them together. Each one of the houses, feeders and boxes are autographed and dated by Mason. Little did we know when we started this “birthday project” of packing shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child that Mason’s kindness, compassion and love for others would impact so many lives. We have met and connected with so many amazing people along this journey. It has given Mason the opportunity to be a voice for all those with special needs that simply says, “Give us a chance.” To his friends, community and even strangers, he has been this song, “This Little Light of Mine.” To our family, he has been our greatest teacher. Lastly, Mason’s love for Jesus has allowed him to “Be the Light.”

Author: Rachel Howell

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