At sunset on August 2, friends and family of Christian Sanchez, a boy who lost his life at the age of 13 during a storm on a 2016 Boy Scout camping trip, gathered to honor what would have been Christian’s 18th birthday. The group met at the field north of The Storehouse of Collin County in Plano to share memories, release balloons and do good through a service project in Christian’s honor.
“The year Christian died, the families at Trinity Christian Academy, where [he] attended school, organized a balloon release in remembrance of him,” said Rhonda Sanchez, Christian’s mother. “The next year, through our church, St. Andrew United Methodist Church, we created blessing bags in celebration of Christian’s heart for service.”
This year the group assembled 1,000 hygiene kits containing toiletries, books and snacks to be distributed by The Storehouse to individuals in the homeless community. In 2018 the group of family and friends packed backpacks with school supplies and food for a food pantry. In 2019 they stuffed water bottles with pencils, stickers, erasers and other supplies.
At this year’s memorial, each participant arrived with birthday balloons. St. Andrew United Methodist Church Lead Preaching Pastor Arthur Jones offered words of welcome to begin the event, and St. Andrew Student Ministry Director Michael Agnew led the group in prayer.
Before the balloon release, Rhonda shared words of motherly advice and gratitude with the students. “I think about you all a lot, and I have all this motherly advice with no one to share it with, so today I want to provide you with some encouragement. I know this senior year is not the senior year you had hoped for, but it can still be a really great year. Please take that to heart and do not be disappointed about what you can’t do. Instead, be eager to do something totally different that no one else has ever done.”
Candace Winslow, executive director at The Storehouse of Collin County, also shared, “There is no better way to commemorate Christian, who was all about serving others, with a project that will serve over 1,000 neighbors you may never meet. This has been a difficult year for our neighbors, and we know they will be incredibly grateful to receive these personal hygiene items.”
On top of the service project, Christian’s friends and family are also raising funds for the Christian Sanchez Scholarship Fund at TCA which was established to keep his memory alive and enable more students to attend the school. One of the main ways they’ve raised money for the scholarship is through garage sales. This year, the garage sale has gone virtual with only porch pick-up and drop-off.
“Every year as we get closer to the time of Christian’s accident, which was on July 21, it is very easy to feel sad,” shared Rhonda. “But through working with The Storehouse of Collin County and our annual garage sale, we can celebrate his memory together, help others, and have fun – just as Christian would have wanted us to do.”