LAGRANGE — One 9-year-old girl is hoping to give back this holiday season, but not everything went exactly as planned.

Mikayla Hayes says she wanted to make a difference this holiday season by contributing to Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas child.

“Operation Christmas Child is a ministry that sends packages to children all around the world. A lot of countries participate in Operation Christmas Child, ” said Johnathan Ray, pastor at LaGrange Baptist Church.

She surpassed her goal this year and filled 40 shoeboxes with toys and hygiene essentials — all in the spirit of giving.

“I did a bottle drive to get the money and went to the store the get the stuff,” said Pastor Ray.

“She absolutely exceeded our expectations. Little Mikayla, 8 years old, put together 39 shoe boxes by herself, of course, assisted by her mom. Her mother said,  ‘This is Mikayla’s idea,’” said Ray.

Mikayla and her mother, Stacey, planned to drop off these gift boxes at the church last Sunday when life took an unexpected turn.

Stacey was taken to the Northern Light Mayo Hospital just the day before.

She had been battling what she thought was the flu but turned out to be complications from COVID-19.

“Her mom passed away Saturday night and we congregated here Sunday morning. It was a sad morning,” said Pastor Ray.

According to Pastor Ray, fate is in God’s hands.

“I have no doubt God has a plan for Mikayla and these boxes. I want to start a Mikayla fund. I only want it to get bigger and better,” said Pastor Ray.