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Laurens Toys

Charis House children feel Lauren's love

Lauren Clark was five years old. Like many of the children who stay at Charis House, The Rescue Mission’s women and children’s ministry, Lauren loved life, loved people, and loved God.

But in March, Jennifer and Aaron Clark’s vibrant, beautiful little girl went to be with the Lord.

“Lauren truly was a special girl,” Jennifer said of her daughter. “She had an amazing ability to love people and create meaningful relationships. It was truly a gift of hers. We often ask ourselves how she loved so well. How did one little girl love so much?”

With Lauren’s birthday approaching, Jennifer and Aaron prayed about how to celebrate while also honoring Lauren. They remembered how Lauren would often come to them with a box of toys she had packed for them to take to a child in need.

“We knew how much Lauren loved to help others, especially other kids,” Jennifer said. “So we decided the best way to honor Lauren would be to collect toys and donate them to kids in need.”

After some more prayer, the Clark family decided to donate toys to The Rescue Mission’s Charis House and Erin’s House for Grieving Children. Through the generosity of Lauren’s friends and family, they collected 180 new toys, donating half to each organization.

"We're honored that Lauren's parents chose to give the toys to the children who live at Charis House," said Rescue Mission's Pastor Michael Baker, Director of Children and Family Ministries. "These toys have already begun blessing many of the kids who have come through our doors."

Each toy has a label on it that explains it was given in honor of Lauren. It gives a brief description of Lauren and why the toy was donated, and has a link to the website www.laurenslove.net. The website follows Jennifer and Aaron’s journey of grief and recovery, in which their faith has been instrumental.

“The day she passed, it felt like our faith crumbled into a million pieces,” she said. “Our faith felt shattered, and we didn’t know what to believe anymore.”

But Jennifer and Aaron knew that a life of guilt, anger, and bitterness wouldn’t have honored their precious little girl.

“She would want us to continue to live life, to love others, and to love God.”

Baker was especially touched by the story of Lauren and her parents' decision to honor her.

"It strikes a chord with me," he said. "I, too, have a duaghter around Lauren's age, and her parents' tenacity in living out the legacy of this amazing little girl is nothing short of inspiring. It is that legacy, that inspiration, that will long stick with me."

Lauren’s legacy lives on in the toys donated to Charis House, where many hurting children are facing a tough time in life. The Rescue Mission is grateful for Lauren’s beautiful heart, and hopeful for the future of each pair of tiny hands that plays with each toy.

“In her short five-and-a-half years, Lauren loved,” Jennifer said. “She truly lived a life filled with love. Just as importantly, she taught us what it meant to truly live a life filled with love.”